Sitting down could be the new smoking
Scientists have revealed a new epidemic – sitting disease. Our sedentary lifestyles are so bad for us that sitting down could be as bad for us as smoking. Studies show that sitting down – as most of us do for work and leisure – is affecting our long-term health. Irish people spend approximately 6 hours sitting while working at their desks, watching TV or driving. People are unaware that this (regardless of adopting a healthy diet) is driving up your blood pressure and leaving you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems, depression, obesity and some types of cancers.
Sitting increases your chance of premature death
A study examining mortality in women revealed that those who were inactive or sitting for more than 6 hours a day are 94% more likely to die prematurely. For men, the very same inactive lifestyle increases their risk of cardiovascular mortality by 84%.
Exercise alone may not be the answer
The bad news is that though you may exercise regularly, this doesn’t rectify the damage that sitting is doing to your physique.
You may be suffering from sitting disease without even knowing it. Have you felt cramps or niggles in your back, shoulder or neck area? Have you put them down to sleeping funny? Don’t be complacent and accept chronic pain.
Instead, make a pledge to do these four things every day. Make them part of your daily routine as much as your cuppa when you arrive at work.
4 things you should be doing every day
* Alternate between standing and sitting at your desk. Why? After twenty minutes of sitting at a desk your ligaments and soft tissues start to deform having been in the same position for too long. Your body takes on a permanent chair-like shape.
*Get into the habit of doing certain tasks standing up, like making calls, checking your notifications, opening your post …
*Stand up and stretch for a few minutes every 20 minutes and if you need reminding set an alarm on your phone. You can even programme your computer mouse to alert you every 20 minutes. Stand up straight, stretch out fully, breathe deeply for 30 seconds or a minute. Take a walk. Basically move! If you work from home, or in your own office, you can do some lunges to really shake off that chair posture!
*Be personal and rather than sending an email to a colleague in the same office or even building, walk over to them, providing your work related news or updates. It not only enables you to escape from your desk for two minutes but your lines of communication are better as a result.
*Follow suit at home and instead of watching TV (sitting again!) take up an active hobby like swimming, walking, or running or organise a game in the park – get the family involved. Find energetic ways to occupy family time.
*Make changes towards being more active by walking up the stairs instead of taking the lift. Get off the bus at an earlier stop or park your car away from the office, forcing you to power walk to work. Instead of sitting around a table for an informal meeting, suggest a walk-and-talk, or have a stand-up meeting. They are much more efficient as people don’t waste time – they get straight to the point!
Here are some initiatives you could suggest at work:
Consider purchasing or making a stand-up desk. Ask your office manager if a couple of stand-up desks can be installed in the office for anyone to use if they are reading something, taking notes during a call, stuffing envelopes, or whatever …
*Suggest an active initiative where the staff support each other in promoting a good sitting/standing working balance. A group approach will increase participation and make it easier to form habits, plus, if everyone is doing lunges, you won’t feel like an oddball!
*Get a work-place assessment. An expert on posture will come in and assess your work set-up, making recommendations which should improve your well being. If you are in the Leinster area, I can do this.
Therapies that can help
If you are already experiencing chronic aches or pains, a regular Swedish massage, deep tissue massage/medical massage or sports massage will help undo knots and promote healing but you really need to change your work practices to see a long-term improvement. Dry needling can be effective for shoulder or back pain.
Reflexology is an incredible treatment, which promotes homeostasis – the physiological equilibrium between interdependent elements – by working on the feet. It encourages the person’s own healing systems to be activated to maintain well being and it has the added bonus of being incredibly relaxing.
Contact me for a chat to see if I can help you treat chronic pain from sitting disease.