October 24th, 2020

Training Matters: Beware of sitting

By None on October 5, 2018.

Sitting is the new smoking!

No, it doesn’t turn your teeth yellow, or make your breath smell, it does not directly cause lung cancer or emphysema, and it’s not even remotely addictive.

So why the scare tactic comparison? Especially when you consider that smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the world.

Is this all just alarmist pish posh invented by standing desk salesmen?

Well let’s consider the following:

— The average American spends 13 hours a day in a seated position. We eat, study, type, game, watch TV, meet socially, and many of us work from a seated position most days of the week.

— The typical seated office worker has more joint and muscle injuries than any other industry sector worker. Hands up if you have carpal tunnel syndrome, neck, shoulder or low back pain, sciatica, knee pain, or ankle and foot issues.

— Men and women who sit more than six hours a day die earlier than people who sit less than three hours a day and the highest mortality link to sitting was cardiovascular disease.

— Cancer? The Journal of the American Cancer Institute found that sitting for long periods of time increased the risk of colon, endometrial, and possibly lung cancer (forget what I said earlier). The risk increased with each two-hour increase in daily sitting time.

— Women who sat for more than seven hours a day were 47 per cent more likely to suffer from depression.

Not only does a sedentary lifestyle contribute to obesity, but sitting for long periods has a negative effect on insulin and blood sugar levels as well. In a meta- analysis of 18 studies with nearly 800,000 participants those who sat most were twice as likely to develop type two diabetes!

Bottom line is that too much sitting will shorten your life and add pain to it just like smoking.

Sorry crazy fitness guru types who feel that exercise solves everything, the effects of chronic sitting are not wholly reversible through exercise. “What? You mean I can’t fix 13 hours of daily abuse with a 45 minute sweatfest here and there?” That’s not to say you should not exercise but it does suggest we need to incorporate more into our daily lives.

“But Ed, there has to be something we can do!” I’m glad you asked.

Posture is number one. For better or for worse the body adapts to how it is used. You can have the best ergonomic set up but if you live with a hunchback, head stuck forward, excessively arched low back, immobile hips, locked up ankles then use it or you lose it abounds and short and tight muscles get tighter and long and weak muscles get weaker. You need to prioritize posture right now.

Movement is important too. The human organism thrives with movement and suffers without it. The universal recommendation is standing breaks every 20-30 minutes to open the hips and allow nutrients to flow to the joints and tissues of the lower body and wastes to flow out. Go for a walk at lunch instead of more sitting.

Stretching is the third component. Those rounded shoulders mean the chest muscles are tight and need to open, the closed hips tightens and shortens the hip flexors, and those amazing typing fingers and hands benefit tremendously by going through a full range of motion as well.

These three simple habits combined with a regular appropriate exercise regimen incorporated into your day can make a huge difference in your energy levels at the end of the day, the total calories you burn, as well as decreasing your risk of many of the above maladies.

Quit sitting around, get up off it.

Ed Stiles BPE, Certified Exercise Physiologist is a member of the Alberta Sport Development Centre’s Performance Enhancement Team and is the Fitness Coordinator at the Family Leisure Centre he can be reached via e-mail at asdc@mhc.ab.ca, or at ed1sti@medicinehat.ca.

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