There’s an activity that humans are doing across our culture that is killing us insidiously. It’s called sitting and we should be treating it like an epidemic. We all have 24 hours each day. Of that 24 hours, the average American spends 7.7 hours sleeping and 9.3 hours sitting. So, how long is too long to be sitting? Prolonged sitting is anywhere in the realm of 8-12 hours per day, and sitting for that long is having incredible impact on people’s lives.
Let's break down some of the health risks associated with sitting and then we’ll give you some tips on how to make changes.
Would You Gamble Away 40% of Your Life Expectancy?
It has been found that obese people sit 2.5 hours more per day than the average American who is at a healthy weight. When we sit for long periods of time the body's metabolic engine goes to sleep. When the muscles stop moving all together, the body's calorie burning rate plummets to about one calorie per minute, a third of what it would be if you were walking. Insulin effectiveness also drops and the risk of developing type II diabetes rises blood pressure nd cholesterol levels rise, too. Enough motivation for you to stand up yet?
People with jobs that involve prolonged sitting double their risk of heart disease and the rate of metabolic syndrome risk factors, like increased blood pressure, fat deposits around the waist, and abnormal cholesterols levels, increase by 73%.
Put all of this together and there's a 90% increase in disease risk and the overall risk of mortality increases by 40% for people who sit 8 to 12 hours per day. Those are not odds that I want to take to Vegas.
Good Posture: Not Just For Trees
Sitting can also contribute to migraine pain, headaches, neck/back pain, tingling, numbness, loss of sensation in hands, muscle weakness, cold hands, clumsiness or loss of coordination, discomfort or tightness in musculature, swelling, inflammation, stiffness in joints, and poor posture. What most people don't realize is that when you sit for long periods of time, you can develop something called Anterior Head Syndrome (AHS) where the head shifts forward. Remember that your head weighs about as much as a bowling ball so when it shifts forward it puts more mechanical stress on your vertebrae and contributes to secondary conditions like AHS, as well as muscular tension and spasm, Dowager’s Hump (Granny's Hump), compressed degenerated disks, nerve contingent syndrome, and damaged degenerated vertebrae.
And that’s just while you're just sitting at work. It's not only sitting in front of a computer that contributes to these problems. Just think of the posture of someone texting; there is now a condition called Text Neck because of it. Or, think of your head position when driving a car or watching television. In all of these situations people tend to slide their head forward, which creates additional adverse tension on their spinal cord altering their posture.
In addition to that, posture has a large impact on your mood. Incorrect posture, like slouching, is not just bad for your physical health, but can be hard on your emotional and social well-being, too. A study done by researchers showed that women who walk with their eyes on the ground, as if carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, would be more likely to be mugged than those who walk briskly and purposefully with their head erect.
We live in a gravitational field. When our bodies are out of line with the vertical, some of the muscles have to work harder than others to keep us upright. This results in NeuroStructural fatigue.
In fact, a study at San Francisco State University split up a group of110 students and asked half of them to sit in a slumped position and asked the other half to skip back and forth down a hall. The skippers reported having more energy throughout the day.
So, what do you do to avoid the challenges that are related to Anterior Head Syndrome and poor posture? These neurological behavioral patterns are not something that you want to try to override by trying to fix your posture consciously, because you can actually drive the neurological behavior deeper and any structural shifts that occur don't correct the problem long-term. However, there are some very important solutions that you can implement today if you are at risk for all of these issues from prolonged sitting.
Solutions Get Up Often
Make sure you get up and move frequently. Do things like gentle neck and back stretches, chair squats, or take short walks so you just don't sit constantly.
2. Stand Up Longer
You can also consider get an air desk or a standing desk. Make sure that you research this option thoroughly so you don’t create other problems from having an incorrect standing desk set-up, or from standing for too long during the day.
3. Get Ergo
Make sure the ergonomics of your work area are correct. You want to make sure that your monitor is at eye level and at a distance where you don't have to squint or lean your head forward to be able to read the text. If you're doing that then you need to change the position of your monitor or make the font or text larger so that it can be read without effort. Have a hand rest/arm rest on your chair. Use a footstool if needed so your legs are in 90-degree angle.
4. Get Real
Most importantly, make sure you are dealing with the real problem. If after a few minutes of work you're slouching in your chair, there's no amount of ergonomics or posture exercise that will change that. It's happening because there's an underlining NeuroStructural dysfunction, not because you're lazy.
Neuro Spinal dysfunctions involve neurological behavioral changes because your spinal cord and connective tissue are flexing or twisting from long-term stress patterns that are related to structural shifts. These behavioral changes of your nerve system and structural shifts lead to perception changes of the world around you and the world within you. You time here is too short to accept a decreased quality of life or a shortened lifespan. Change your spine and change your life.
Contact us at Network Family Wellness Center -- 303-998-1000 -- to schedule a complimentary consultation today or click here to schedule a consultation online as well as receive a $50 gift certificate towards your evaluation.