I recently received the October issue of The Costco Connection and as I was flipping through it I noticed this short article about the effects of prolonged sitting. Jennifer Nelson who wrote the article first talks about the importance of gravity on our body. Gravity keeps our body from stretching out, gives it something to push and work against. She says sitting is a lot like being without gravity, especially if we’re sitting 8 – 12 hours a day. When sitting we’re not using our postural muscles, the ones that keep us upright and walking, so the tendency is for them to weaken. On top of a weakened core add to that all the crazy postures we get into as we sit; slumping, leaning toward the computer with our head and neck far in front of us, legs tucked under the chair and so on. It’s no wonder our backs hurt!
And we’re not just sitting at work, which for many is already 8 – 10 hours a day. We’re sitting on the way to and from work, siting for meals and sitting more as we plop in front of the television at night. So how can we counter the effects of all this sitting? For starters, be sure to keep good posture. Sit up straight, feet flat on the floor, abdominal muscles engaged and get an ergo consult so that you are positioned properly with your computer.
The other important piece of this however is to take breaks from the sitting posture and change it up. I suggest to my clients that they set an alarm to help them remember. Every 20 or 30 minutes is great, but at least once an hour, get up and out of that chair. Some companies offer standing stations or desks that change from sitting to standing. If this is not an option just getting up and doing some shoulder circles, stretching your arms, shake out your legs can be just the thing to liven up the body again.
The moral of the story – if we don’t use it we’ll lose it. So put gravity to work and get out of that chair!