Here are my tips to help prevent back pain, obesity, heart disease, cancer and death from over sitting:
- Stand whilst on public transport…there’ll be more than enough time to sit when you get to work
- Get up from your desk at least 1-2 times an hour (less than 5 minutes standing and walking around is sufficient)
- Drink more often, you’ll have to get up more frequently…to get a drink…and to go to the toilet
- Rather than send an email, why not walk over and speak to someone? (research has shown that walking at a leisurely pace is enough to reverse the metabolic changes caused by prolonged sitting)
- Don’t have lunch at your desk…go for a short walk…get some fresh air
- Organise your work tasks so that they involve frequent movement
- Here’s a little exercise you can do when you stand (breath in whilst you reach upwards and hold the position for about 5 seconds)…it will help your back
- Don’t use your car when your feet will do just as well
The clear message is that health can be maintained by including frequent short periods of standing and walking in our normal daily activity…little and often is the way forward!
Most of us spend the overwhelming majority of our waking hours seated. We sit down to have breakfast. Then we sit in our cars or on the train or bus on the way to work. When we arrive at work, we sit at our desks until lunch and then sit a little more to enjoy lunch. After work, we once again sit in our cars or on the train or bus. As soon as we get home we rush in to “take the load off” and collapse into our sofas, from where we surreptitiously pretend to read the paper…until dinner is ready! We then sit down to savour our meal, after which we promptly return to our sofas to digest…whilst watching a little TV…sound familiar?
Unfortunately for us, sitting is a major risk factor in the development of low back pain and it has even been associated with disc herniation. I naïvely assumed that was the worst of it until I stumbled upon a thought-provoking article…
Can sitting too much kill you? Wow, talk about getting your attention! Research has shown that spending excessive periods of time sitting can lead to obesity, heart disease and cancer. This can happen even if we take part in regular exercise. As Dr Marc Hamilton says, “sitting too much is not the same as exercising too little”. One of the culprits may be an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase. It allows muscles to uptake fat thereby decreasing the levels of fat circulating in the blood stream…and preventing arteries from becoming clogged up. Sitting markedly decreases the secretion of lipoprotein lipase. A large study conducted by Dr Peter Katzmarzyk found those who sit more are at higher risk of death than those who sit less.
Shocking isn’t it? I bet you won’t complain the next time you don’t get a seat on the train or underground! Before you sell your sofa and chairs or hand in your notice in search of that coveted job as a parking attendant or postman…things may not be as bleak as they seem…check out my next post for some life saving tips!