Modern day living seems to involve more and more time spent sitting down. Our commuting to work, desk-jobs, TV watching, web-browsing lifestyles are becoming detrimental to our health. Until recently it was believed that getting your recommended daily dose of physical exercise was enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Contrary to this however there is consistently more and more research emerging to indicate that our sedentary lifestyles are increasing the risk of disease and death even if you are meeting physical activity guidelines. This is becoming known as the “sitting disease” and is even being compared to smoking, as similarly smoking is bad for your health, even if you get regular exercise.
Heart disease, diabetes, cancer and depression are all linked to increase time spent sitting down, and the longer you sit, the higher the risk. The human body is designed to move, unfortunately when you sit for a length of time the metabolic rate slows right down, and as the muscles aren’t activated the circulation slows, and this leads to an increase in heart disease and diabetes as blood sugar levels rise and no fat is burned.
Sitting can also negatively affect our posture which in turn affects our health. Poor posture reduces the expansion of the lungs when breathing. If you are slumped over a computer all day it means the lungs have less room to inflate which reduces the amount of oxygen intake. As a result of this muscles are not functioning optimally which in turn affects circulation. Poor posture also increases the risk of injury, particularly in athletes, but it is also a very common cause of chronic neck and back pain, headaches and other problems.
Taking regular activity breaks from sitting, even as short as one minute, can improve your health. It is therefore very important to get moving. If you work at a desk all day then you need to schedule in movement breaks. Get up and do some stretches, even just a few heel raises, stand up whilst on the phone, or take the stairs at work rather than the elevator. Look at your day and work out where you can fit in more movement. In the evenings if you are watching television get up during the adverts, don’t allow yourself to lay slumped for hours on end. It is also important to make time for exercise, preferably every day. Ideally find an exercise you actually enjoy as this way you are more likely to keep it up, not everyone enjoys the gym workouts, a walk outdoors can be equally beneficial.
Finally, prevention is better than cure, visit your chiropractor to get your posture checked. Sitting all day puts excessive stress and strains on the joints and muscles which eventually leads to dysfunction. Your chiropractor will assess your spine and posture and use specific manipulations, mobilisations, soft tissue work, and advise you on exercises to improve function and posture.