Stand To Work: Avoid the “Sitting Disease”
Just as the computer age sparked carpal tunnel problems by the 90’s and dawned the new age of “Ergonomics”, the information age has birthed a new “sitting disease”. The convenience of sitting at our desk with a wealth of knowledge and communication at our fingertips may be or health’s demise. The New York Times hit the nail on the head when they defined the number one enemy to good health as “Your Chair”. All this downtime is so unhealthy that it’s given birth to a new area of medical study called inactivity physiology, which explores the effects of our increasingly butt-bound, tech-driven lives, as well as a deadly new epidemic researchers have dubbed “sitting disease.”
Because I am a health & fitness junkie, I took offense to the theory that by working at my desk 8 hours per day I was causing irreparable damage to my metabolism & body. In fact the NY Times article stated, “irrespective of whether you exercise vigorously, sitting for long periods is bad for you.” Meaning you cannot compensate good exercise, morning or afternoon, for sitting all day. One doctor even compares the effects of sitting all day to smoking for your health.
Like many people I have made more than a few visits to a chiropractor. Balanced Body in Omaha has helped adjust my shoulders and hips. I feel like I carry stress in my shoulders. While visiting with Dr. Baker he gave me several tips for correcting my sitting posture. These have helped with my overall posture and I have pain much less frequently. One suggestion is to set an hourly alarm to remind yourself to realign your posture.
This year I also developed was what I dubbed a “hitch in my hip”. Even though I run a few times a week as well as lift weights, I was experiencing pain in the front of my hip. It felt as though my hip was “catching” when I got up from sitting. This resulted it an embarrassing “Old Lady Gait”. Dr. Baker helped treat this with exercises designed to help stretch my hip flexors which had become tight due to the sitting I do all day. In fact it was likely the cause of my hips sliding out of place as well. ~ Yes another light bulb moment to point me in the right direction.
Mark’s Daily Apple calls the weakness in our legs & hips “The Spread”. Sitting weakens our muscles, especially in the legs and the hips. When you sit, your glutes are totally inactive. They aren’t being used. They’re stretched out. It’s just one big static stretch, all day long, which weakens them. Because strong, engaged glutes are required for effective, natural movement, you’re an injury waiting to happen. Sitting also causes permanent hip flexion. It shortens your hip flexors and makes them tight. Without good hip mobility and strength, your ability to just walk around and perform day-to-day motions is severely compromised.
Another main reason to stand is to lose the junk that seems to find its way around our middle. It seems that no matter how low the calorie restriction or how grueling the workout, as I age it gets harder and harder to get rid of it. The implication is that when you sit, a crucial part of your metabolism slows down.” In fact one blogger who has switched to standing lost 12 lbs in 3 months.
Part of the problem with sitting a lot is that you don’t use as much energy as those who spend more time on their feet. The NY Times Article as noted that sitting, “makes it easier to gain weight, and makes you more prone to the health problems that fatness often brings. ~ A study of junior doctors doing the same job, the same week, on identical wards found that some individuals walked four times farther than others at work each day. (No one in the study was overweight; but the “long-distance” doctors were thinner than the “short-distance” doctors.)
Our bodies have evolved over millions of years to do one thing: move,” says James Levine,M.D., Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and author of Move a Little, Lose a Lot. “As human beings, we evolved to stand upright. For thousands of generations, our environment demanded nearly constant physical activity.”
LONG TERM HEALTH
If we all viewed our health like we view a mutual fund, we would realize that the work we do today will pay off tomorrow. Its the little things we do early on that can have a big impact kind of like compounding interest; Take the stairs, park further away, leave food your your plate, and stand when you work. Hip, knee & back issues seem to be on the rise — or maybe I am just getting older and notice more friends with them. Either way if you can do something today to feel less pain for years to come then I say, “Sign me up”.
How does this relate to insurance? I believe that work comp claims resulting from “sitting” will be on the rise. A smart risk management tool would be to add the sit & stand workstations for your employees. Also I believe knowledge is power. Many companies have learned a lot about ergonomics at computer workstations now we need to learn how to sit less.
There are many ways you can decide to stand at work. One website suggest you stand when receiving a phone call to start or stack books or cubes to the correct height. For less than $500 I chose the Ergotron’s Work-Fit on Amazon. I found it easy to assemble and I was impressed by the quality materials. I was able to mount my 27″ monitor and set it up in about 15-30 minutes. It raises & lowers with ease so I can sit when customers are at my desk.
Sure I have gotten some funny looks from customers when they pop their heads in my office but it has been a great conversation starter. While the first few days of any new regimen are the hardest, I feel my body is adapting pretty well to standing. Its my first week of standing so I will keep you posted on my progress. I am hoping to be stronger & thinner and more healthy because I stand.
What lifestyle changes have you made or are you willing to make to improve your health & well being into the future?