The perils of sitting (and what you can do about it)

It’s no surprise to anyone who watches the news that sitting is not the greatest position for the human body. Study after study have been released over the last decade that indicate North Americans are spending far too much time in the same knee-bent, back-slouched, shoulders-curled position, and it’s taking a major toll on our well-being.

Outside of the immediate physical harm like back pain, muscle tightening, poor posture and the shortening of soft tissues, excessive amounts of sitting can also have a long-term negative impact on our health.

The lessened physical movement we experience during our day can result in weight gain, obesity, and eventual heart disease.

Sitting for the better part of the day has also recently been linked to depression and anxiety in a significant number of office workers.

There’s no getting around it: the studies of sitting come back rather bleak.

Unfortunately, not everyone can work a job where they’re not at a desk/computer for the majority of the day. Health is obviously extremely important, but part of good, holistic health is being able to pay your bills! So what can you do in the here & now to mitigate the harmful impacts of a sit-down job?

Stand up!

Not to be cheeky, but it’s a pretty obvious solution – if sitting has such negative impacts, take some time to stand up during the day. Studies show that you should be taking a break every 20-30 minutes, even if all you do is push back your chair, stand, and take a big stretch.

The longer you stay immobile in one position, the more strain you put on the muscles and tendons holding you in that position. Even a brief, 60-second break every half hour will alleviate some of that strain.

As an added bonus, changing your position will increase blood flow to your brain, refreshing you and making you sharper and more focused for your next 30-minute stint of work.

Stand up… at your desk

No longer just the domain of hip start-up offices that also feature beer fridges and foosball tables (although those sound pretty awesome, too), stand-up desks are showing up in offices in a big way. Some models even offer hydraulic systems, meaning you can start the morning standing, lower the desk so you can sit for a few hours, and then raise it back up and finish your day.

Some companies have gone so far as to create treadmill desks, to allow for movement while working.

One tip for working at a stand up desk: bring a tennis ball into work with you, and roll it around with your feet while working. This will remind you to stay mobile and reap the most benefits (and save you from sore feet and legs at the end of the day).

Move whenever possible

Outside of the office there are lots of opportunities to move and get a bit more active.

Need milk? Walk to the corner store instead of driving to the supermarket. Go for a bike ride or walk after work, instead of plunking yourself down in front of the TV. Make a hiking date with friends on the weekend in place of sitting in a restaurant for dinner.

Being active doesn’t just mean spending 30 minutes on the treadmill three times a week – it can, and should, be something you pay attention to every day.

Come visit us

Paramedical services like physio, yoga centers directory, massage therapy, yoga therapy and chiropractics are a great way to right some of the wrongs sitting has done to your body over the years.

We’re lucky in Victoria because active lifestyles are the norm, but that doesn’t mean that 30 years at a 9-5 desk job hasn’t had an impact. If you’re noticing aches and pains while you’re sitting or exercising, pay us a visit.

You may have to sit in the waiting room for a few minutes, but we promise the pay-off to your muscles and your long-term health will be worth it.