- Get up from your desk every hour!
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator!
- Take regular breaks when driving!
Sound familiar? You don’t need a professional to tell you too much sitting is bad for you, but do you have any idea why?
With the eternal quest to combat obesity, a new body of research into the physiology of inactivity is emerging. It has been calculated that, on average, an office worker sits for 5hrs and 41 minutes/day. In a valiant effort to offset this, many of us spend an hour a day at the gym. Unfortunately, new evidence is suggesting that this mentality “makes scarcely more sense than the notion that you could counter a pack-a-day smoking habit by jogging,” as * James Vlahos puts it in the New York Times.
This may seem dramatic, but there is now good evidence to suggest that sitting may in fact be a pathology in its very own right. Sitting is one of the least passive activities we can perform, burning less energy than chewing gum or stirring a cup of coffee. Standing, on the other hand, burns on average 50 more calories/hour than sitting.
From a physiological point of view there are numerous disadvantages of sitting:
- The overall electrical activity in muscles significantly decreases leading to a number of harmful metabolic effects.
- The calorie-burning rate per minute is up to 1/3 less than when moving around.
- The effectiveness of insulin uptake of glucose in the bloodstream drops within just 24hrs of inactivity leading to a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- There is decreased activity of enzymes responsible for breaking down lipids and triglycerides, leading to a decrease in good cholesterol (HDL) and an increased risk of obesity.
- There is also research suggesting a link between increased risk of cardiovascular disease directly related to prolonged periods of inactivity and ultimately, higher rates of mortality in those who live a more sedentary lifestyle- despite diet and regular exercise.
So what does this mean for you?
With a new push towards attitude change, standing desks are becoming less of an eccentric health fad and more of a commonality in the workplace. Experts recommend this as the easiest way to incorporate small regular movements throughout the day, not only reducing the risk of musculoskeletal conditions, but also ultimately decreasing risks of obesity, cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
It is hoped that this will be the future of occupational health and safety. In the meantime, consider small changes; like altering your computer height to be able to stand for periods, walking to speak with a colleague rather than emailing, taking the stairs and spending as much of day as possible moving, perhaps even try dancing at your desk whilst you work?
Most importantly the message form us at Clifton Hill Physiotherapy is ‘Take a stand and keep moving!’
(Alison completed her Bachelor of physiotherapy at the University of Melbourne in 2009. Since graduating she has travelled and worked extensively through the UK and Australia. Alison has experience working with football/netball teams and dancers in both injury prevention and management and has a keen interest in helping people of all levels to achieve their maximum function.She uses a combined musculoskeletal, exercise prescription and clinical Pilates approach in her treatment. She also has an interest in vestibular and neurological rehabilitation and is currently broadening her experience in this area)
‘Is sitting a lethal activity?’ The New York Times, April 2011, James Vlahos