Sitting Ourselves to Death
by Trent Brooke PT, DPT
AZOPT Goodyear Physical Therapist
Throughout history, people found themselves standing, walking, and generally being on their feet more often than not. However, in 2017, sitting has become the position people find themselves in more often and for longer throughout the day. We sit when we drive, at our desks for work and school, or just lounging in front of the TV. In today’s fast paced and technology induced society, everything is one click away. Most errands can be completed without ever having to get up from your chair. A 2008 Vanderbilt study of 6,300 people published in the American Journal of Epidemiology estimated that the average American spends 55% of waking time being sedentary, which includes sitting. That amounts to 7.7 hours per day or 117 full 24 hour days out of a year, and that does not even include sleep!
The problem with all this convenience is it creates a sedentary lifestyle. Being sedentary is extremely dangerous to both physical and mental health. “For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking,” said Martha Grogan, a cardiologist from Mayo Clinic.
Negative Effects of Being Sedentary:
- Increased risk of certain cancers.
- Increased anxiety and depression.
- Risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.
- Being overweight and obese.
- Increased risk of diabetes Type II.
- High blood pressure and increased cholesterol.
- Poor posture and increased neck and back pain.
- Decreased cognition and increased risk of dementia.
- Decreased immune function.
- Decreased bone density.
- Lower energy levels.
- Decreased muscle mass and increased weakness.
What we can do about it!
- Get a standing desk. Whether at home or in the office, having a standing desk can decrease the amount you will have to sit each day. Most employers these days are very receptive to making these types of changes when needed. It can even help with mood and productivity!
- Go for a walk! Walk the dog, walk with the kids, and walk while shopping. Just walk! You can even get up throughout work to go for short walks periodically if your employer is okay with it. While on long drives, stop more frequently. Everyone can find more time to walk.
- Stretch and exercise. Incorporate exercise and stretching in to your daily routine. Make it a priority to exercise each and every day in some form. There are even tons of great office exercises and stretches you can do!
There are all sorts of ways to battle being sedentary from small daily changes to major lifestyle changes. It can be as simple as parking further away from a store or as major as joining a gym. Every little bit counts to being healthier and creating good habits!