You can’t have escaped recent reports in the media about the health problems associated with sitting down for extended periods. Sitting may not sound that hazardous to your healt, but recent studies have shown that if we sit for too long without frequent breaks then our risk of getting heart disease and diabetes is doubled…and that’s before we count the cost on the lower back, neck and shoulders!
The good news is that it doesn’t take much to make positive changes. Getting up from your chair every 20 minutes, for example, has dramatic effects on lowering the levels of glucose and insulin in the bloodstream, reducing the risk of diabetes.
As most people spend a lot of time sitting down, I thought it might be useful to have a few strategies to lessen its harmful effects. These will help your whole body. What is good for your heart will be good for your back too!
Former NASA scientist Dr Joan Vernikos urges people to build movement into their everyday lives, and uses the helpful phrase “non-exercise movement”.
Alternative to sitting for extended periods:
- Every 20 minutes stand up from your desk, just for a few seconds
- Every 60 minutes have a 2 minute walking break. Every time you get up and move you’re doing something positive about your health
- If you can, alternate between standing and sitting – e.g. if you use a laptop, how about standing up and putting it on a higher surface such as a kitchen worktop, a filing cabinet, or an ironing board (tall setting!)? Ask your employer for a sit-stand desk. (I was talking to an employee from a well-known international company who said their European offices have loads of sit-stand desks…whereas in the UK offices there are zero!)
- Develop habits, such as making phone calls when standing
- Move your printer and bin to the other side of the room
- Go for a walk at lunch time
- Use the stairs not the lift or the escalator
- Don’t be obsessed about finding the parking space closest to the door
- If you commute to work by train or bus, try standing for some of the journey, or standing while you wait
The key thing is CHANGE. We are made for movement. Dr Vernikos says “…it’s my belief that the non-exercise activities are the foundation of your body tuning and your health, and more important than regular exercise…Regular exercise is the next step. You build on the foundation.”
Here are Sutton Osteopathy we see a lot of office-workers, or people with jobs which involve a lot of sitting/computer work, and help them with alleviating the huge physical demands that this places on the body. If you would like to discuss how osteopathy may be able to help you, or to make an appointment, please ring 01213547306, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. If you’re worried you might underachieve with all this standing up and walking around, Winston Churchill was renowned for working standing up…and Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776 standing up!