According to the World Health Organization, inactivity – or lack
of enough physical activity – is in the top five leading risk factors
of death for people around the world.
It’s true, the average person spends more hours per day sitting still
than being active. And considering the human body was built for regular
movement, this kind of inactivity can result in serious health issues
down the line.
Studies suggest that the average U.S. adult spends as much as nine to ten
hours a day sitting. This level of inactivity is so high that even a daily,
hour-long workout isn’t enough to offset the effects of such a sedentary
What’s at Stake: We’ll Give You a Hint, It’s Not Just
Contrary to popular belief, sitting for long periods of time won’t
just give you lower back pain, nor will the only effect be spinal-related.
People who spend the majority of their days sitting are subject to a number
of health risks, as described below.
Type 2 diabetes: Studies suggest that sitting between 8 to 12 hours a day could significantly
increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, by up to 90%! The pancreas
produce increased amounts of insulin when the body is “at rest”
for excess amounts of time, and too much insulin can lead to diabetes.
Dementia: A study conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine revealed
that people who spent a majority of their 30s and 40s inactive were more
likely to have smaller brains 20 years later. The more sedentary your
lifestyle, the faster the aging process will occur, thus accelerating
the rate at which the brain shrinks.
Heart disease: When you sit for 8 to 10 hours a day your blood will naturally flow slower
and your muscles will burn less fat. The fatty acids that build as a result
can clog the heart and ultimately result in heart disease.
Muscle degeneration: The abs, hips, and legs all suffer when you sit for prolonged amounts
of time. The abs don’t get a chance to tense / flex from standing;
the hips become tight and have limited range of motion from lack of extension;
and the legs suffer from poor circulation. Some people will even develop
Posture problems: Blood and nutrients are absorbed as you move, which makes sitting for
long periods of time all the more problematic. When the disks in your
back cannot expand and contract with movement, the spine, neck, and shoulders
can all suffer.
Increased risk of cancer: People who live sedentary lives may also be more at risk of colon cancer,
breast cancer, or even endometrial cancer. The link / cause of the cancer
is still being researched, but studies suggest a possible connection to
the excess production of insulin, as well as the biochemical changes associated
with weight gain.
According to Dr. James Levine, co-director of the Mayo Clinic and the Arizona
State University Obesity Initiative, the body is hardwired to be on the
move throughout the day. When you take this away, it sends a message to
the body – at the molecular level – that it’s time to
shut down. Time for death.
The Good News: It’s Not Too Late to Get Help!
“Actively sedentary is a new category of people who are fit for one
hour but sitting around the rest of the day.” – Katy Bowman,
Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement.
For people who sit 8 to 12 hours a day, a one-hour exercise regime may
not be enough to counteract the negative effects of your generally sedentary
lifestyle. So what else can you do?
Aim to get up every 30 minutes. It doesn’t have to be for long! Go grab a glass of water; take a
stroll around the block; stretch a little. Just do
something to get your blood flowing and your body moving.
Use an exercise ball instead of a chair. This will help engage your core muscles while improving your flexibility
and your balance. A little bouncing wouldn’t hurt either!
Sit smartly. Elongate your spine while sitting by sticking it out behind you. This
can help with your breathing and it will stimulate circulation.
Use a standing workstation. Alternating between standing and sitting throughout the day will help
keep your heart working and your blood flowing.
If you really want to up the ante, consider a physical therapy regimen.
At ProFysio Physical Therapy, our doctors and physical therapists
are specially trained to provide patients with new ways to better their
physical health. We will work with you one-on-one to develop a daily plan
that best supports your physical, mental, and emotional health –
and, most importantly, one that gets you up and moving!
We have two office locations in Monmouth County for your convenience, and
we accept most insurance plans. Don’t wait to call us at (732) 333-6360 today!