Sitting is the New Smoking

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You’ve probably heard the above quote recently. Studies now show that a sedentary life is as harmful as cigarette smoke. But many of you have ‘desk jobs’ where sitting is the norm. So, how can you take control of your posture and your health when your profession requires you to sit?

First, some facts about sitting:

FACT #ONE - Sitting itself isn’t harmful to the spine, just as standing isn’t specifically harmful. What’s harmful is a misaligned spine. Sitting is only a problem on the spine if it isn’t aligned. So when you do need to sit, sit straight with legs uncrossed and feet planted firmly on the floor.

FACT #TWO – Sitting, however, IS harmful when it comes to your internal organs. You will burn less fat and your blood will flow more slowly through the body, when you are sitting or lying down. This can lead to an increase in fatty acids in the blood over time, clogging the arteries of the heart. Additionally, your pancreas may overproduce insulin when you are sitting, because you’re not using the energy it normally produces. And too much insulin production can lead to diabetes, among other health conditions.

FACT #THREE – Disc damage increases with long periods of inactivity. If the spine is neglected, it may become inflexible and the discs can lose their sponginess.

FACT #FOUR – Some of the other problems caused by sitting include headaches, sinus pressure, neck pain, tingling in the fingers, arm or leg, dizziness, and fatigue.

So, now that you know why sitting is so bad, let’s talk more about what you can do when your job requires you to be sedentary.

First, you don’t have to sit all day. Even someone with an IT-related job who sits at a desk is permitted breaks. That’s at the extreme, in terms of percentage of desk time for a profession. But anyone – regardless of how long they have to be at their desk – does have other choices they can make.

You can sit on an exercise or balance ball. A balance ball will automatically shift your spine into a stronger position than a chair.

You can also opt for a standing desk. Many, like the Varidesk, will allow you to move the desk up or down as tasks require – you can sit for a while and then move to a standing position.

Second, restructure your day so that you are getting time on your feet and away from your desk and monitor. Rather than sending short emails to your coworkers in another room, can you take a break two or three times a day and go down the hall and speak with them in person?

Lastly, anyone with a job that poses risks to the spine (construction workers, house painters, surgeons and those with desk jobs) should regularly visit their chiropractor, to adjust and accommodate those professional risks. After all, when you’re ready to retire from work, you want to still feel strong and healthy!