By Zach Columbia BS, NASM
Make a fist. Did your knuckles turn white? Of course they did, but do you know why? The answer is simple. You cut off the blood supply. If you were to hold your hand in this position for an extended length of time, even without squeezing, it would become uncomfortable very quickly and your fingers would eventually be difficult and painful to extend. Remember the cramps you would get in your hand when you were in school and had to take a lot of notes? After the first page I bet you were shaking your hand trying to get blood back into it. Now look down. Not at your keyboard that’s directly under your head! Scoot back and look down. Anything look kind of like a fist that’s half closed? How about your whole body? And what plays the role of the knuckle? Well your butt of course.
Lately there’s been quite a bit of research about the dangers of sitting for extended periods of time. I’ve seen articles titled, “Sitting Is Killing You” and “Is Sitting Worse Than Smoking.” Now let’s face it, millions of people smoke, knowing its bad for them. I’m guessing most of you probably aren’t going to entirely give up sitting anytime soon. So here’s some information on how bad it is for you anyway and some tips to stay healthy even though you work a desk job.
The Los Angeles Times recently interviewed Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and inventor of the treadmill desk. Levine has been studying the adverse effects of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles for years and has summed up his findings in two sentences, “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.”
A new study has found that people who sit too much are at an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and shorter life spans. Now obviously the natural assumption would be that those people are overweight and don’t exercise, which also increases your risk of all of these things. Interestingly enough, this is not always the case. Sitting carries the same risks for those who exercise regularly, although they aren’t at as high of a risk.
Let’s go back to the knuckle analogy I used earlier. Think about the pain you get in your hand when you write a page of notes, or paint your walls, or work on your car. It cramps because your cutting off the blood flow. Sitting also restricts the blood flow to your glutes and low extremities. Poor blood flow leads to all the risks listed above, but also to very poor muscle tissue and tonicity; not to mention the deactivation of certain muscles and over activation of others. Therefore, not only is sitting putting you at a higher risk for disease and death, but it’s also causing your dysfunction and pain. I don’t know about you, but I really dislike being in pain.
So here are my super brilliant tips that you never would have thought of on your own. Step one: stand and move more! See, I told you, you never would have thought of that one. Now seriously, go get a standing desk and make sure you get up and walk around every hour.
Step two: When you do have to sit, sit in the lotus position. The lotus position allows you to maintain stability throughout the core and spine. It can even be done in most office chairs. Bet you didn’t think of that one.
Reverse those effects of sitting too much. Contact us to start a workout program today!
Geggerl, Laura. 2015. Web: http://www.livescience.com/49518-sitting-cancer-heart-risk.html
Levine, M.D., Ph.D. James A. 2016. Web: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq-20058005