I think you are all perfectly aware of my views with regard to the dangers of prolonged sitting. I have written articles about it, have self help videos on the subject and continually speak to my clients about ways for them to combat the postural issues sitting can cause.
But can it actually kill us?
Would you believe that researchers have discovered a direct relationship between prolonged hours of sitting and early mortality rates?
Now if you are someone who goes to the gym or takes part in some form of exercise every day, don’t believe you should stop reading because this doesn’t apply to you. For instance, if you are an office worker or drive for a living and go to the gym every day, you are still at risk for it would seem it is the sustained period of time you sit for that is the culprit here.
One study used a hip-mounted accelerometer to analyze the movement of adults over 45. The results showed that, on average, sedentary behavior accounted for about 12.3 hours of an average 16-hour waking day. That only left 3.7 hours a day for movement.
Another study found that adults under the age of 45, on average, sit for 9 to 10 hours a day. Researchers have estimated that these periods of sedentary behavior can be as short as 11 minutes at a time, but others periods can last up to 90 minutes.
As the amount of time spent sitting increases, so does the chance of early death. Based on this study, those who sat for 13 hours a day or more had a 200 percent greater risk of death compared to those who sat for 11 hours a day or less.
The good news was though that those who sat for less than 30 minutes at any given time actually lowered their risk of an early death.
The American Heart Association is also encouraging us to “Sit less, move more.”
So what do you do? It’s not as if we can go through life not sitting.
Luckily it can be rectified very easily…….. just keep getting up.
If you have to set up a notification every 30 minutes to signal you that it’s time to move, do it! You don’t have to go far but as long as you break the cycle the results will speak for themselves. You have to start to be proactive and redefine what movement means to you. Go to the bathroom, get a drink, go outside, walk up and down a flight of stairs, stand up and stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles, mobilize your upper body with a few rhythmic movements.
You should also combat the ravages prolonged sitting is making on your body long term by introducing a comprehensive flexibility program. When you sit for long periods of time you are literally training certain muscles in your body to become short and tight and over time this will result in major postural issues. The first thing you will notice will be tightness in the lower back, and/or neck and shoulder tension. Headaches will start to become a frequent visitor and your energy levels will be low with severe dips towards mid-morning and mid-afternoon. If you are not proactive about your flexibility of key muscles, the tightness in the lower back or neck and shoulder area will develop into bulging discs, sciatica or herniation. You may start to suffer with TMJ dysfunction and a good night’s sleep will be a thing of the past!
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