The amount of time we spend sitting down each day – whether at a desk, in a car, or in front of a screen for leisure time – creates health risks comparable to those caused by smoking.
While "sitting is the new smoking?" is a popular phrase coined by Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic is a catchy headline, is it true??
Experts point out that taking a seat is still not as bad as inhaling smoke filled with harmful chemicals into your lungs. The actual science shows that while sitting isn't the best for you, it's not nearly as bad as smoking. But are we "sitting" ourselves to death?
Studies have linked being inactive with being overweight and obese, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and early death. Sitting for long periods is thought to slow the metabolism, which affects the body's ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat.
It can cause blood to pool in the legs. This can lead to varicose veins, or spider veins, a smaller version of the former. Though generally not harmful themselves, these swollen and visible veins can be unsightly. In rare cases, they can lead to more serious conditions, like blood clots.
Prolonged sitting without getting up to move around can lead to deep vein thrombosis (DVT), the formation of a blood clot in a vein deep in the body. DVT typically affects large veins in the thigh and leg but can present in other parts of the body.
How to Combat Sedentary Behavior
So how do you reduce your health risks while you’re at work or relaxing at home? The simplified answer is, of course, “sit less, move more.” A few modifications to your routine can make a big difference.
Try a Treadmill or Standing Desk
The treadmill desk was invented to help office workers get more physical activity and avoid some of the health risks associated with too much sitting. If a treadmill desk is not feasible, a standing desk may be an option. Most standing desks feature an adjustable platform to raise your computer to a level that is comfortable to use while standing. The surface can also be brought down to a traditional chair level, but the worker has the option of switching the positions as desired while continuing to work.
Build Standing into Your Routine
If treadmill or standing desks are not an option in your office, you can build other opportunities for standing into your work routine. For instance, stand up while taking phone calls or eating lunch. You may be able to stand while reading material that does not require you to type. If you are going to call another person in your office on the phone, walk over to their desk instead. Make sure you get up and move around for a few minutes at least once an hour, if not more frequently.
Remember to Stand Up at Home
Too much sitting during leisure time is just as unhealthy as it is while working. If you’re watching television, get up and walk around during commercials. Stand intermittently while reading, watching a movie, or playing video games. Take breaks and stretch during sedentary activities. Enjoy a quick walk around the block if you have a few minutes of free time.
Does your lifestyle include too much sitting? Sitting too much causes muscle imbalances; increasing the use of certain muscles making them tight while under using other muscles making them weak! Try taking one of my Pilates classes...there is something right for everyone no matter what level you are at! All classes are designed to open up the front body and strengthen the back body for better posture!