Is sitting the new smoking?
We all know that sitting for too long causes us to go stir crazy but does that also have the same effect on our health too?
Environmental factors definitely have an effect on neck and back pain that is seen every day in a physical therapy clinic. There are multiple factors when sitting that can contribute to pain including computer set up, chair height and comfort level as well as the work load a person might be doing in sitting.
So the question arises: Does sitting have an impact on our health and what can we do to change it?
Let’s look at the facts and what research shows us.
- In a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, men had a 64 percent greater chance of dying from heart disease with increased sitting time (more than 23 hours a week sitting in their vehicles or watching television) than those who sat for 11 hours or less
- The more alarming results showed that these individuals were exercising regularly but that did not counterbalance the amount of sitting and health effects.
- Other research shows that correcting bad behavior and postures is not enough, but rather to remove negative behaviors and patterns.
What we can do is change the environment by sitting with a lumbar roll behind our low back to improve lumbar lordosis or the natural curve of our low back. Also, we can perform corrective exercises to help strengthen our neck and upper back to help with slouched posture.
In the work setting, an ergonomic evaluation can provide resources to fix work stations to improve posture. There are desk setups that allow for patients to stand or sit, which can be a beneficial set up for any individual to prevent prolonged sitting in poor postures. It is recommended that after 30 minutes of sitting, an individual should stand and take a 30 second break to stretch and move.
Changing your work station and environment is just as important to improve your health and well-being.
Sitting has a direct impact on your health and research proves it so the bottom line it get up and move. A body in motion stays in motion and a body at rest stays at rest.
About the Author
Katie DiSanto, DPT, CSCS, Cert. MDT specializes in orthopedic outpatient physical therapy with more than eight years in clinical experience. She received her certification in mechanical diagnosis and treatment with emphasis in the spine and extremities. She also has a certification in strength and conditioning which allows her to transition athletes from rehab back to sport to regain active lifestyle. She is an adjunct faculty member at Old Dominion University in the physical therapy program and enjoys teaching both in the university and the clinical setting.