In my chiropractic practice, I see prolonged sitting as a constant cause of back pain, neck pain, and headaches in my patients who are chained to a desk all day. I see this a lot in young professionals whose bodies are not used to being stuck in this new position. I encourage them to get up and move around every 15 minutes. I show them exercises they can do to help keep the muscles loose and warmed up. But what about older adults? Should they be worried about spending too much time on their fanny?
Absolutely. However, pain and discomfort are not the only things to be concerned about. According to a recent study, older adults that sit more than 11 hours per day had a 40% greater risk of “all cause mortality” (meaning death by any cause) than those who sat 4 hours per day. They found that sitting longer than 8 hours causes the risks to go up “exponentially.”
This adds to the mounting evidence that human beings are not meant to sit all day. Our genes expect us to move. We are built for it. The muscles need to be taken through their ranges of motion, which keeps them strong and limber. The joints push out waste products and take in nutrients when they move. The cardiovascular system needs to be worked in order to stay strong and efficient. Sitting all day is very detrimental to these functions, not to mention the effect on body composition and diabetes. In essence, if you don’t move it, you really do lose it…your body, that is.
Now this doesn’t mean you have to go from couch surfer to marathon runner overnight. Just spending five more minutes per hour on your feet and moving can make a huge difference. Take a few calls standing up. Take a quick lap around the house or the office. Even better, drop and bust our 20 pushups and then get up and do 20 squats. This will get the blood flowing and send a strong message to your genes that you still intend to do use that body of yours. Now get up, and get moving!
If you need some ideas for getting more exercise at work, you can check out my past blog post on that subject here: Desk Jockey Boot Camp