As digital technology grows and grows, sitting has become the most common posture in the workplace with some sitting on average over 10 hours in a period. This leaves little time for any physical activity throughout the day. But why is it so bad for you? To help you understand I've researched side effects from top to toe that can cause major issues.
The heart - Muscles burn less fat and blood flow becomes slower during a long sit. Prolonged sitting has been linked to high blood pressure and cholesterol and those who sit longer are twice as likely to be at risk of cardiovascular disease.
Colon & Pancreas - Excess sitting can really impact our gut. It compresses our organs and as a result blood flow declines causing bowels to suffer. The pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that carries glucose to our cells. So when the cells are in sluggish muscles, they don't know what to do with the insulin that the pancreas keeps producing. This unfortunately over time leads to diabetes or other health challenges.
Abs - Yes you know it, being slumped in a chair means you don't use your abs and we us our tummy muscles for mostly everything like walking, standing and any type of movement.
Hips & Glutes- Tight hips is not only a sign you are getting older but also a major result of chronic sitting. The iliopsoas muscle get's contracted and with time, our body starts to slouch unconsciously to release a little stress and to make up for the natural response to gravity.
Legs- We already know that long periods of sitting result in slower circulation and can cause blood to collect in the legs. This happens when blood doesn't pump back to the heart and usually ranges from swollen ankles to varicose veins .
Brain- When we are sedentary for long periods we are likely to be less effective and productive and our brain actually starts to slow down. Moving muscles pumps fresh blood and oxygen to the brain triggering the release of dopamine (feel good hormone) serotonin ( essential for sleep), oxytocin (the love hormone) and endorphins (pain reliever to pain or stress).
Neck, shoulder and back - We don't notice enough but sitting at a desk can cause us to crane our neck forward and strains the cervical vertebrae. That's the first seven bones (C1- C7) from the base of your skull down to your shoulders. This slump forward extends into the shoulders and back muscles and impacts the space between your shoulder blades known as your trapezius.
Spine - You are as young as your spine is flexible said Joseph Pilates. Bodies and spines that move have soft disks between vertebrae's that expand like sponges soaking up fresh blood and nutrients. When we are seated too long, these disc seize up losing their softness and could end up with a herniated disc.
So what can we do about it?
Simply move by getting up every half n hour. Go for a walk, try a yoga or exercise class. Even a walk of 1 mph burns more calories than sitting. Alternate standing at work, perhaps during catch up meetings stand and walk. Try sitting on a backless chair or an exercise ball keeping both feet flat and sitting up tall. Cat and Cow poses to improve both extension and flexion of your back. Observe your posture when you do sit down for long periods. Set an alarm reminder to get you to move around every 30-60 min. Stretch each morning and night for a few minutes and see how it makes a difference.
Do your best to avoid digestive (and other) issues by getting as much movement as possible throughout the day