Jack Ricci: Combat effects of prolonged sitting
October 10, 2016
Prolonged sitting is a habit that has been accepted as a regular part of most workplace and educational settings. Whether you're in the driver's seat, at school, at work or on the couch watching your favorite TV show chances are you spend a good majority of your day in a seated position. And the scientific community say it's wreaking havoc on our bodies.
Technological advancements aren't helping us either. Technology is improving the way we can access and share information in both the workplace and in classrooms, but that also means more time in front of a computer.
Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic Obesity Solutions Initiative and inventor of the treadmill desk stated "Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death."
Tom Rath, author of the New York Times bestselling book Eat Move Sleep, states "Sitting is the most underrated health-threat of modern time. Researchers found that sitting more than six hours in a day will greatly increase your risk of an early death."
A sedentary lifestyle has long been associated with a variety of health problems: strained neck and shoulders, back problems, hip problems, knee problems, brain damage, organ damage and cardiovascular disease (clogged arteries and varicose veins).
A 2015 study published in Experimental Physiology by Dr. Ali McManus of the University of British Columbia titled Impact of prolonged sitting on vascular function in young girls, showed what happens to young children when asked to sit for extended periods of time.
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In this study, a group of girls between the ages of 9 and 12 were asked to sit for three hours in a bean bag chair. Half of the girls were asked to sit uninterrupted, while the other half were asked to get up once each hour and casually ride a stationary bike for 10 minutes. Researchers then measured their arterial function.
The results were alarming for the girls who sat for three hours uninterrupted: they showed "a profound reduction in vascular function." Fortunately, the girls' arteries returned to normal quite rapidly: those who had sat for three uninterrupted hours demonstrated healthy vascular function when retested on subsequent trips to the lab.
The most encouraging finding of the study, however, was with the girls who broke up their sitting time with 10 minutes of easy cycling each hour. This group showed no decline at all in vascular function. This means that we can combat the effects of prolonged sitting by engaging in regular movement.
The solution? Break up your work or school day with regular bouts of exercise. Take 10 minutes each hour and:
Go for a brisk walk
Do some calisthenics
Ride a bike
Juggle a soccer ball
Or put on your favorite music and dance
In addition to taking regular "movement breaks," we can also include movement as a part of our work station.
Here are some options: Sit on a gym ball or wobble air cushion.
Create a standing work station.
Create a stationary bike workstation or a treadmill workstation.
Using a gym ball or wobble air cushion as a seat has added benefits: it stimulates your balance centers in your brain and spinal column. This helps us to maintain a healthy skeletal system and helps prevent the loss of balance over time.
Whichever option(s) you choose, I recommend doing some research to ensure you're ergonomically balanced at your workstation. Consult with a workplace ergonomics specialist in your company or ask for help from someone in your community.
Many chiropractors and physical therapists can also provide excellent feedback in this area.
Jack Ricci, D.C. uses non-surgical, drug-free, non-invasive methods to get fast and effective results in patients who suffer from neck and back pain (including herniated disks, pinched nerves, back and neck injuries and muscle tension), headaches, athletic injuries, sleep disorders and scoliosis. He can be reached through his website at http://www.core-chiro.com.
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