Is Sitting The New Smoking? Why Spending Too Much Time In A Chair Is So Bad For Your Health
August 10, 2015
We all do it. Every single day. And, for some of us, there’s no way to avoid it, unless we’re willing to quit get a job in retail. I’m talking about sitting–at a desk, on our couches, and while we’re commuting in a car, train, or bus. Given the number of hours many of us work, experts say they’re better able to gauge the health risks associated with prolonged sitting and guess what? They aren’t pretty.
“Studies have shown that people who sat for prolonged periods of time had a higher risk of worsening cardiovascular health, higher rates of type 2 diabetes, cancer, and cancer-related deaths and increased risk of developing dementia,” says Dr. Carolyn Dean, who is an author and the medical director for The Nutritional Magnesium Association. “Prolonged sitting also has detrimental effects on sugar and fat metabolism, both of which affect a person’s risk of diabetes and heart disease. You burn 30 percent less calories when you are sitting than when you are standing, which is related to weight gain.”
And that’s not all. Studies published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information actually link too much sitting with early mortality rates. If that’s not enough of a reason to run out and purchase a standing desk, Dr. Brent Baldasare of Affinity Health & Wellness says many of his patients even complain that prolonged sitting makes them less attractive. “A common problem of sitting to long is that it can significantly contribute to ‘Hunchback’ or Kyphosis posture,” Baldasare says. “Our posture and the way we move is a key trigger for attractiveness. When we see someone with a hunchback posture we tend to have compassion instead of attractiveness.”
Since most companies aren’t likely to make immediate changes that improve work conditions, it’s up to you to take care of your body to prevent the health risks associated with sitting. Here are some expert tips you should implement today!
1. Go for a walk. Everyone needs a break from work once in a while. A short stroll will make you a more relaxed, effective worker, but it will also help your health. “The simple solution is to make it a habit to stand up and walk around or stretch for a few minutes every 20-30 minutes,” Baldasare says.
2. Embrace technology. Imagine a device that actually helps your spine, even when you don’t realize you’re sitting in a way that will hurt your back. “The Lumo Body Tech is a new device we’ve started to investigate. It is designed to gently vibrate when your posture goes out of alignment. This in turn conditions your mind and body to maintain excellent posture without having to wear a posture brace,” says Baldasare.
3. Jump. “If it’s impossible to get up and move often than we recommend a little bit more of a drastic measure,” Baldasare says. “When you can get up, go somewhere and do 10 jumps as high as you can. Start slow and work your way to superman leaps. This is an excellent way to break your body’s trance of being in a seated sedentary position. It will jump start your energy, pump fluid into your low back discs and reset your posture muscles.”
4. Stand whenever possible. Even something as simple as making it a habit to stand when talking on the phone, which Dean recommends, can allow for better blood flow.
5. Download an app. If you’re a focused worker, you may need help reminding yourself to stand up and stretch every now and then. “Use an mobile phone or computer app that will sound an alarm to remind you to stand up and stretch,” Dean says.
6. Eat well and take supplements. What you eat and drink can help alleviate the stress of sitting too long. “Drink magnesium citrate powder mixed with hot or cold water. This is an anti-stress mineral and sleep aid that will help you relax during the day and recover and get a good night’s sleep to further help you with work-related stress,” Dean says.
7. Dress well. Fashion isn’t just fun, it’s also functional. “Compression socks and/or pants will also help with improved blood circulation in your legs and feet,” Dean says. “Use them during the day or sleep in them for one or two nights.”