Sitting is Bad for Your Health – Get Moving!

by Dr. Karen Cann on September 27, 2011

Did you know that if you sit for most of the day, you are 54% more prone to die of a heart attack? This is a serious health trend that we’re seeing in the medical field – and the worst part is the fact that the first symptom of a heart attack in 55% of people is fatality/death.

Besides back pain, medical statistics are showing that sitting for long periods of time is just plain bad for your health.

This statistic is seen in smokers and non-smokers alike, in those who exercise and those who do not, and those who eat healthy and unhealthy too.

Sitting is an independent risk factor. The act of standing and moving raises our levels of an enzyme know as lipoprotein lipase (LDL), whose function is to breakdown fat and turn it into energy. As a society, we are spending more time sitting due to modern technology and fast-food consumption. One study found that people gain 16 pounds on average within 8 months of starting sedentary office work. Our bodies simply adapt to what we do most often. So, as we age, it is so very important to stay up and active. This will also help us to potentially prevent other health problems as well (other than a heart attack). This includes neck and back pain, poor posture, shoulder and hip pain, decreased agility and endurance, fatigue, increased risk of physical injury, facial dysfunction, muscle weakness, transfer dysfunction, weight gain, diabetes, and arthritis.

There are stretches you can do that reduce your risk of heart attack and other serious medical conditions.

So what can we do?  Simply put, if you sit or work in an office most of the time, you need to stand up and move around more. Take a quick break each hour to grab a drink from the water cooler or use the restroom. Go and say hello to a fellow office worker and discuss work issues face-to-face for a change. Stand and stretch, flex and contract, do isometric exercises, and write shorter emails! The emails that take you more than 15 minutes to write would be much better handled by speaking directly with the other individual instead…standing up of course. If you need to speak to them over the telephone, stand up while you’re on the call.

Many offices are moving towards work stations that contain a stand up desk/podium. Check with your Human Resources Department to see if this is something that can be done for you. It will help to burn more calories during the day.

When you arrive at the workplace, you can also park farther away from the door so that you will walk further to/from your desk. Instead of the elevator, try using the stairs too.

Adding a little excercise and stretching to your daily routine can be a fun way to get outdoors and spend quality time with friends, family, and loved ones.

And to prevent postural problems and pain, make sure your ergonomic desk set-up is correct. Use a lumbar cushion on your chair for better back support. Learn the correct stretches to do. Strengthen your neck and core. Sit and stand up straighter. Get up every 30 minutes and move about. Use a phone headset. Eat healthier. Exercise. Stop smoking.

The overall goal you should have in your life is to prevent health problems. The more non-exercise types of activities that you do means the more time you should spend on your feet, out of your chair. Instead of trying to “be” fit, start trying to “live” fit. Working out should include all of our waking hours. Exercise is a lifestyle change. “Just do it” by making healthy choices. And if you need some professional help in determining what exercises or related activities can help you best, I’d be happy to provide you with some proven instruction. Just call my office to schedule an appointment.  Or feel free to come to one of my free health and wellness classes.

Discover the health within you.TM

(850) 916-9304

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