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Avoid the "Sitting Disease" with these tips

Sep 5, 2015 BY Aliya Visram

Note from Joy: This is Dr. Aliya's first blog post on Joyous Health! As you might know, I've been seeing her as a patient for chiropractic care since being pregnant. You can watch a recent video I did with her on great exercises for a healthy pelvis. Enjoy her post!

Over the past few years, prolonged sitting has emerged as the biggest health concern of the 21st century. Countless headlines and articles warn that sitting has become the new smoking. Studies have long connected prolonged sitting, and by extension a sedentary lifestyle, with our society’s poor state of health. The list of chronic illnesses linked to sitting is extensive and includes conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension and even some types of cancer.

The Truth

Yes sitting is bad, but is it going to kill you?

Actually, no. Sitting itself isn’t going to kill you, because sitting is not the main problem.   The overall lack of movement and exercise, a predominantly sedentary lifestyle and the general absence of different ways to move our bodies are at the root of the “sitting disease.”

Of course, the popular standing desk or the fancy ergonomic chair will definitely help encourage movement, but it’s only a part of the solution.  Nonetheless, exercising before or after work also isn’t enough to counteract sitting for eight hours a day glued to your chair.

Your body functions at its best when it moves through a myriad of positions throughout the day.

Mix it Up!

The variety of movement is the key. Our bodies are designed to move through a range of postures and positions throughout the day. Rather than modifying your environment such as your desk, workstation or job, it is relatively easy to change your body position with regularity.

Standing or sitting in a certain position for prolonged periods of time places a load of stress on your body causing increased strain on specific muscles and joints resulting in fatigue and weakness.

Moving from sitting to standing, standing to sitting, and combining walking on a regular basis can lead to bigger changes in lifestyle and health overall.

Take a Microbreak

One of the most important ergonomic concepts gaining popularity recently is the idea of a “microbreak.” Microbreaks are regular, small, meaningful breaks from being stuck in one position. Paul Ingraham, a massage therapist and ergonomic expert, states that “[the ] only true ergonomic workstation arrangement is to break free of it regularly. No chair or efficiently arranged workstation can protect you from the dangers of sitting everyday.”

The Fix

While an expensive ergonomic chair or a standing desk may not be the answer to combat the sitting epidemic, here are a few strategies and tips that can help:

If you use public transportation to commute, opt to stand instead of sit.

Get rid of your wheel-y desk chair, so you have to get up and move around your workspace.

Take microbreaks. Using a timing software will interrupt your work at regular intervals encouraging you to get up and move around. Grab a drink of water or a snack, go to the bathroom, or talk to a colleague.

Try the app Backache: it’s a great tool to notifiy you to take breaks at regularly and offers some helpful exercises and mobilizations.

Create a list of tasks you can do in different positions throughout the day. For example, field phone calls on your feet or conduct meetings as you walk.

Remember that daily movement isn’t just working out at the gym. Take the stairs at work. Park farther away from the office or store. Go for a walk after lunch.

"Sitting in a chair all day is like long distance running; not everybody can do it, and nobody can do it forever." – Paul Ingraham

Sep 5, 2015 BY Aliya Visram
3 Comments
Karoline Kanyeria   •   March 10, 2016

Thank you Dr. Aliya for sharing these practical tips!

Reply

James   •   March 15, 2016

Great write up Aliya! You are so right about mixing it up! No same posture is good for an extended amount of time!

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Amal Ahmed   •   August 12, 2016

Great tips Aliya. Right sitting posture is must to stay fit and a healthy backbone. Thanks !!

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