I bet this is not a major news flash to you: exercise and moving your body is good for you, and sitting for long periods of time is bad for you. There have been a ton of research articles, books, and blog posts written discussing the many benefits of regular exercises.
I personally do my best to exercise multiples time per week, and I feel much more energetic and vibrant when I do so. I highly recommend that you exercise on a committed, regular basis as well.
But what about what you are doing outside of the gym or after your exercise session? The vast majority of people in Singapore, whether it’s at school or work, sit for excessive periods of time. Is your work environment undoing the positive effects of your exercise program? Is your habit of sitting at your computer all day causing your health to silently breakdown?
Don’t just take it from me.
The Los Angeles Times recently interviewed Dr. James Levine MD, director of the Mayo Clinic Obesity Solutions Initiative. Levine has been studying the adverse effects of sedentary lifestyles for years and has summed up his findings in this way:
“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.”
Dr. Levine is credited with popularizing the phrase, “Sitting is the new smoking.”
I agree with this sentiment one hundred percent.
Many people sit at their jobs hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year… You get the point. This damage builds up and gets worse over time. There is a multiplier effect of stress and tension that can accumulate.
Below are four harmful consequences of being on your butt for many hours of your life.
1. Sitting Increases the Risk of Life-Threatening Diseases
Sitting for long periods of time will:
- Increase your blood sugar
- May lead to insulin sensitivity
- Increase the risk of type 2 diabetes
- Increase the risk of heart disease
- Increase your risk of colon, endometrial, and possibly lung cancer
Here are the links to the research articles if you feel like learning more:
2. Sitting Ruins Your Low Back
Working at a desk for many hours a day will cause you to stay in one position for an extended period of time. This fixed posture can cause your spinal joints to stiffen and your muscles can be grow inactive. Over time, your muscles will shut down and wear down. The stress and trauma of sitting can also radiate into your upper back, shoulders, and neck region.
Related Post: Bulletproof Your Low Back
Pain, stiffness, aches can be a result of this sedentary posture, leading to joint dysfunction as well. This bad posture can lead to your spinal bones falling out of alignment and irritating your nerve system.
3. Sitting Makes You Fat
The general inactivity of sitting for long hours will lower your ability to burn calories, weaken your metabolism, and cause you to gain weight. Weight gain is a major cause of a variety of degenerative health problems. It is not a small problem.
Recent studies have also shown that sitting and being inactive will inhibit hormones that breakdown fat. The evidence is clear: time at your desk can cause you to pack on the pounds (or kilograms).
4. Sitting Can Cause You to Die Earlier
This may sound dramatic, but it’s true; a sedentary lifestyle actually shortens your life.
As we talked about above, sitting for prolonged periods of time puts you at greater risk of diseases that may end up killing you. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found people who sat for over 11 hours a day had a 40% greater risk of dying within three years from any cause than people who sat less than 4 hours a day.
What Should You Do?
For many people, regardless of age or gender, it is impossible to avoid sitting for long periods of time. Whether it’s during your commute or throughout the day, a significant portion of your life is spent sitting down. So, what should you do to improve your health and decrease the many risks that hours of daily sitting can lead to?
Get On Your Feet
Schedule times during your day to stand up and walk around. If you can’t remember to do this, add an alarm on your mobile phone or reminder on your workstation.
Even a couple of minutes on your feet every hour will help to reduce the stress and trauma of prolonged sitting.
Take Stretch Breaks
Here is a series of stretches and exercises you can do to mobilize your spine and to reduce the physical/mental stress and tension you are experiencing.
Invest in a Standing Desk
A growing trend is to turn a sitting job into a standing job. Desks that are taller have the ability to keep you on your feet longer and help you have a better, more erect posture. This will reduce the stress and tension that you may experience throughout your day.
Stand up workstations are not for everybody, and they require time for you to adapt to them. At the same time, many people prefer standup workstations and experience greater ease, flexibility, and mobility in the long run.
Get Your Spine Checked
Chiropractic has an impressive track record in helping people feel better and function better in their lives.
If you sit for excessive periods of time at work—which is the vast majority of people living in Singapore—you very likely have a spine related problem. Say goodbye to stiffness, aches, pains, and immobility with chiropractic.
Schedule a no-obligation checkup today!