Sitting seems innocent enough. Most of us with desk jobs spend a good portion of our waking life parked in an office chair. More than any generation in history, working people in America spend untold hours leaning over their keyboards staring at a monitor. On top of work is the great American pastime, television. We sit to make a living, we sit for fun, and when we can’t decide what to do, we just sit around. It turns out that sitting is much more dangerous than it seems. In fact there is ample evidence that sitting is killing us!
Sitting makes you fat
In short, sitting for long periods of time can make you gain unwanted fat even if you aren’t taking in many calories. Just a century ago, when far fewer people had desk jobs, obesity was much less of a problem in the United States. While computer technology has made us fantastically more productive, it hasn’t done us many favors in the health department.
The longer you sit, the worse it gets
The moment you sit down the nerve activity in your legs drops significantly, your metabolism drops to extremely low levels, and the active enzymes that break down fat begin to shut down. The longer you stay seated, the worse things get for your body. After just two hours the amount of good cholesterol active in your body drops 20%.
Sitting for long periods of time is also harmful to your skeletal muscular system
Craning your neck for hours on end or tilting your head to cradle a phone are two bad habits that can lead to long term pain and stiffness if not properly treated. Slouching at your chair also overextends your shoulder and back muscles, particularly those around the trapezius at the base of the scull. As sitting puts uneven pressure on the spine and displaces proper blood flow, spinal disc problems are endemic to chronic sitters. If a sitting habit goes on for very long periods of time collagen can form around the connective tissue in the spine and harden – talk about a stiff back!
Sitting for too long is also bad for your mental health
Did you notice that sitting for long periods of time can make you feel irritable, depressed, and tired? Ironically, being sedentary makes you feel more lethargic than working on your feet. Luckily, exercise is one of the best (and least expensive) anti-depressants available. Exercising helps your cardiovascular system move oxygen and nutrients to your brain (exercising doesn’t need to be a heavy workout sessions – even walking up and down your office stairs counts as exercise). The longer you sit, the more your thinking slows down.
Three Ways To Battle The Deadly Dangers of Sitting
As you can see, sitting is not nearly as innocent an activity as we may think. Changing a couple small habits of your daily life, alongside adding Pilates to your routine, can reverse the effects of long term sitting.
Upgrade Your Desk Chair
If your desk chair causes you to slouch forward (consciously or unconsciously), it’s time to replace it with a more ergonomic desk chair. Ideally you should be leaning back from your desk at 135 degrees or so. Failing that, try and keep your posture at 90 degrees, keep your feet on the ground, and keep your hands perpendicular to your back as you work. Something as simple as adjusting your monitor or chair height can make a big difference for your circulation, posture, and overall health. Better than spending all day in an office chair, consider swapping it out for a high quality Pilates ball. It may seem funny, but sitting on a ball causes you to constantly engage your core muscles to stay stable and upright.
Get Up and Move!
Every half hour or so, get out of your chair and shake things out. Pace around your office, do some light stretches, or walk up and down a flight of stairs. Self consciousness is no excuse! Your coworkers may chuckle, but keep an eye on them in the late afternoon. If you stick to your activity regime you’ll be wide awake and productive long after they’ve begun yawning and slouching in their chairs. At Firehaus Pilates, our team of fitness experts can design a customized workout that you can do at your office. Remember, the longer you sit, the harder it is on your body, so set some silent alarms on your smartphone or put them in your calendar. Don’t let your working day creep up on you!
Come Give Pilates a Try
We know what it’s like trying to balance work, a social life, and myriad hobbies. Still, if you aren’t taking good care of your physical well being, the other important aspects of your life become harder to manage. At Firehaus Pilates we strive to achieve balance across all aspects of life. Of course, that means stretching and strengthening the body, but it also means working to instill better life habits.
So push your chair aside, leave your couch behind and head down to our Pilates studio at 3451 W 38th Ave in Denver. Together, we can start pushing back the effects of too much sitting and work to shape a happier, healthier, and more active you!