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Posted on 01-23-2014

You Might Want to Stand Up for This!

So I’m going to take a wild guess that you are currently sitting down as you read this article. Furthermore, I am going to go as far as saying that you probably spent the majority of your day in a seated position. Now, in the back of your mind I’m sure your thinking “well, I run,” or “I work out.” That is great, but what do you do outside of your 30 minutes to an hour in the gym? What does your lifestyle look like? Are you ‘standing up’ for a healthier you?

I’m sure you have heard the saying as someone was about to give you some bad news, “you might want to sit down for this”. By the conclusion of this article you may change that to “you might want to stand up for this.” The reason being is that the average American sits for approximately 11 hours a day. Considering we are sleeping 7.7 hours a night that only leaves us 5.3 of movement. So statistically we are spending the majority of our lives sitting. That is some crazy ‘sit,’ primarily because the human body was not made to sit for long periods of time.

When we sit for prolonged periods throughout the day, there is a phenomenon that takes place known as lower cross syndrome. In this phenomenon, our hip flexors or thigh muscles become over stimulated or tight and our gluteal muscles or buttocks become inhibited or weak. This leads to chronically tight hamstrings and a weakened core. So what does this mean for you? In a sense you are transitioning back into a cave man like posture. Head forward, rounded back, rounded shoulders-type posture. Your body has compensated to become more efficient at sitting. Initially a good thing, but now, when you exercise, pick up your toddler, perform household chores, etc. your core can no longer stabilize as it needs to. Think of your core as the foundation of your house. Once it begins to weaken the remaining structures will begin to falter (i.e. walls, ceiling, and roof). The same can be said for your body. When the core becomes weakened, other tissues begin to falter leading to low back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and even headaches.

So what can we do to get out of this deep ‘sit’? There are several small changes that can be made to help control this process. A standing desk for your workspace would be most beneficial. If that is not an option, interrupting sitting as much as possible would be your best course of action. A good way to achieve this is to incorporate jump rope or jumping jacks for 1-2 minutes, 5-6 times daily. This will help to elevate you metabolic rate, burn calories and break up your pattern of prolonged sitting. If you think that jump rope or jumping jacks is an impossible task, you could try standing every time you take a phone call or walk to the water fountain every time you need a drink instead of using a bottle. There are many more ways to interrupt the pattern of prolonged sitting. My request is that you find one that works for you, for your own sake. Also, you could ask a professional (chiropractor, PT, Medical Doctor) to examine your workspace and give you tips for proper ergonomics. For instance, if you tilt your chair back to approximately 130 degrees, you will allow opening of the hips and decrease the pressure on your lower back.

If I haven’t thoroughly scared the ‘sit’ out of you by now, maybe this will. People with jobs requiring prolonged sitting have two times the rate for heart disease as people with jobs that require standing. During prolonged sitting, enzymes that help break down fat drop by 90%. Your calorie burn drops to 1 per minute. Good Cholesterol drops 20%. Insulin effectiveness drops 24% and risk of diabetes increases. Finally sitting more than 6 hours a day makes you 40% more likely to die in 15 years than someone who sits lees than three hours a day, even with a regular exercise program. As you can see, sitting is killing us. Don’t be the next victim. Get up and move!

-Harvey J. Roeder III D.C. MS A.R.T.

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