Sedentary behavior is at an all-time high, and it’s no wonder. With all the sitting we do in the car, at work, not to mention on the couch at home watching TV, it adds up. In fact, the typical office worker sits up to 15 hours a day. When you factor in 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, that’s not much time spent on your feet whatsoever. What does this mean? Nothing good.
Some of the reasons too much sitting is harmful include:
- Fewer calories are burned: Standing, walking, or even simply fidgeting absentmindedly still burns more calories than sitting. Sitting involves very little energy expenditure, by contrast, which severely limits calories you burn throughout the day.
- You gain weight more easily: This correlates directly with the fact that you’re burning fewer calories, and is one of the main causes of obesity. Research even shows that obese people sit for an average of 2 more hours each day than people at a healthy weight.
- Excessive sitting is linked to an earlier death: Some research has suggested sedentary people have a 22 to 49% higher chance of early death. However, this is still disputed by other studies.
- Sedentary behavior can cause disease: Long-term sedentary behavior increases your risk of health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and more than 30 other chronic diseases and health conditions.
- Exercise doesn’t completely eliminate the risks: Unfortunately, exercise cannot offset the health risks of excessive sitting. Being physically active is incredibly beneficial, of course, but you should think of ways you can get up and move more often during the workday to limit the risks of sitting too much.
What Can Be Done at Home?
- Strengthen your core: Because sitting decreases core strength and posture, the relaxed position you take in a desk chair disengages your core. This can cause you to habitually slouch. You can combat this by doing movements to isolate your midsection muscles and build your core strength with planks, flutter kicks, and V-ups.
- Take stress off your spine: The pressure placed on your spine is enormous, and sitting creates more pressure on the back than standing does. You can opt for a standing desk to mitigate these risks, or try including more bridges, planks, and core exercises into your daily routine.
- Pay attention to your legs and glutes: Hamstrings, abductors, adductors, quadriceps – everything: If you don’t use it, you lose it. And by “it,” we mean muscle tone and overall strength. Squats, lunges and bridges are a few exercises targeting these muscle groups.
- Focus on your neck and shoulders: In the workplace, especially for desk workers, you may find yourself hunching and craning your neck to look down often, specifically looking down at your computer or phone screen. To counteract the effects on your neck and shoulders, try out some of these exercises: dumbbell shrugs, push-ups, and planks. Work on strengthening and stretching these areas to prevent muscle imbalances, soreness, and strains.
How Can Physical Therapy Help?
If you have aches and pains with no easily identifiable root cause, it may be time to schedule an appointment with your local physical therapist. A properly trained physical therapist can help teach you effective exercises you can do at home and at work to lessen the risks imposed by excessive sitting.
Please call us today at (732) 812-5200 or schedule an appointment online.