Most of us crunch away in front of a computer for 8 hours a day, sit another hour or so while commuting home, only to sit some more watching TV, playing with the iPad, or reading a book before going to bed.
We think we can offset this sedentary behavior by exercising like mad dogs for 1 hour before/after work or participating in weekend warrior syndrome.
The sad fact is that exercise doesn’t compensate for sitting all day, just as exercise doesn’t compensate for a smoking habit. It is estimated that you burn an extra 50 calories per hour standing compared to sitting.
Your leg muscles work to keep you upright and balanced, expending energy. This adds up if you sit for 8 hours per day, 5 days a week. (BBC News Magazine)
Sitting for long hours has been linked to a higher risk of: Death from: Cardiovascular disease and Cancers: lung, endometrial, prostate, breast, colon, mental health issues like depression, metabolic syndrome: High blood pressure, belly fat and obesity, high bad cholesterol, and increased false appetite leading to weight gain.
Adults who spend most of their time sitting have a 112 per cent increase in type 2 diabetes
Scary Correlations from various research studies:
• If you’re 60 and older, every additional hour a day you spend sitting is linked to doubling the risk of being disabled regardless of exercise. Disability is defined by limitations in being able to do basic activities: eating, dressing, bathing, getting in and out of bed and walking across a room. Disability increases the risk of hospitalization and institutionalization and is a leading source of health care costs (Northwestern University Study)
• Adults who spend most of their time sitting have a 112% increased chance of developing type 2 diabetes. (Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study)
• Every hour you spend sitting reduces your life expectancy by 21.8 minutes.
(British Journal of Sports Medicine). If you sat 8 hours a day, in 1 week you would sit a total of 56 hours a week. According to calculations using the statistics above you would reduce your life expectancy by an estimated 20 hours and 20 minutes each week, and a total of 44 days lost per year.
What can we do?
• Take standing breaks rather than sitting breaks. Get up every 30 minutes to an hour. Drink more fluids. This equals more trips to the washroom. Walk during commercials. Go for a walk during lunch.
• Consider changing your sitting workspace into a standing work station. Stand up when you talk on the phone or during a work meeting. Schedule “walking” meetings. Sit on an exercise ball or a backless stool to get a core muscle workout.
• Proper Sitting Posture: Sit up straight not leaning forward, shoulders relaxed, arms at the sides, elbows bent to 90, lower back may be supported, feet flat on floor in front of you so they support about a quarter of your weight.
• When you go to grocery store or mall, park in the space farthest away from the entrance. Walk or bike for short errands instead of taking the car. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
• A popular device is a pedometer that counts the number of steps taken during the day. It can be synced to a smart phone and computer. You can track your progress and try to reach a daily goal of 10,000 steps a day which is equivalent to 8km.
Remember that not all sitting is bad. Relaxing after work in front of the TV with our feet up, socializing with friends, reading a good book to decompress from the days stress is still good for you.
Standing all day isn’t good for you and can lead to different problems like fatigue and varicose veins. The key is to incorporate movement into every hour of your day to balance out all the sitting we do.
Dr. Ailin Oishi-Stamatiou, BSc Hons, DC, is a licensed and registered chiropractor who practices in Leaside, Toronto. She is bilingual in Japanese and English. More info at: www.droishi.com