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Apr 28

Is Sitting Truly the New Smoking?

Back Pain, Lee's Summit Chiropractor, Pain Management, Preventative Care Comments Off on Is Sitting Truly the New Smoking?

Lying in Opposition to Life | Lee’s Summit Chiropractor

Here’s a news flash: movement is healthy! Shocking, I know. We don’t often ascribe robust health to those confined to bed-rest nor do we imagine a life with washboard abs and buns-of-steel springing into existence after watching a marathon of “Duck Dynasty” (although your beard may be fuller afterwards).

Lately, the news has been awash with reports of how sitting has become the new smoking—but do these comparisons hold true? The answer is a resounding “no”, but this by no means downplays the importance of moving daily. By moving I don’t mean working out for an hour a day—this, as it turns out, does little to prevent the onset of illnesses associated with being sedentary. What we as humans require to be healthy is more than a desultory stroll through a twisted clockwork of gym appliances. Truly, we must rediscover our old connections to movement.

The Cost of Being Sedentary

So, how does sitting compare to smoking? According to researchers, an hour of television ticks an additional 22 minutes from your life span; while smoking vaporizes 11 minutes per cigarette. Uninterrupted sitting for long periods has also been associated with:

  • Double the associated risk of acquiring diabetes and heart disease
  • Increased weight gain
  • Blood clots
  • Back pain
  • Depression
  • Premature death
  • Now, before you defenestrate your La-Z-Boy, sending it sailing into the night’s air, it’s important to realize two things. One, most sedentary people gravitate towards activities which play a part in the morbidity scares affiliated with sitting (e.g. eating processed junk food). Two, and most importantly, there’s something you can do about it.

    Standing Up for Yourself

    As a chiropractor, my most consistent patient is the office worker. Conventional wisdom would have you believe that contractors and day-laborers were our largest contingent, with all the lifting, twisting, pulling and hauling all day long. We easily see office workers 5-to-1 to any other affected group of workers. The “why” illustrates our main contention with being sedentary: that it promotes all lifestyle-based illnesses, including back pain.

    If the work you perform requires you to be sedentary for long hours in the day, don’t fret. Here are some measures you can take today to reverse the risks associated with sitting…

    Embrace the effects of gravity

  • Astronauts have taught us much about the positive effects gravity has on our health. We require the stresses of gravity to strengthen our muscles, bones and vascular systems—otherwise, we speed up the aging process and run the risk of morbidity.
  • Simply getting up from a seated position throughout the day (30 or more times optimally), while changing posture, provides more benefit than an hour at the gym amid an otherwise sedentary day. Make a habit of getting up every 20 to 30 minutes throughout the day for a 30 to 60 second break. Stretch and move your body in a different pattern for each break to add variety to this routine and enhanced balance throughout the body.
  • Posture + Stretching = Balance

  • Practice correct posture, which promotes optimal muscle balance and proper breathing. Poor posture creates muscle imbalances and leads to incomplete oxygen intake, which can translate to illness. For more on posture, check out this video from Esther Gokhale (click here).
  • Fascia is a band of tissue in the body that surrounds and binds muscles, allowing them to slide or glide in movement. When we’re sedentary we tend to lose this elasticity and glide from our movements, making our bodies feel bound and rigid. The elasticity of fascia is governed by our daily movement, so embracing activities like yoga and Pilates, in conjunction with other forms of exercise like walking, water aerobics and biking to name a few, acts like a lubricant to the muscles and joints, balancing weak muscles and improving motion, diminishing pain in the process.
  • For more information on leading an active, healthy life, back pain or anything health-related for that matter, contact us at:

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