When you take a moment to think about it, a lot of our day is spent sitting. Commuting, desk work, waiting rooms and downtime on the couch are common activities that all have something in common: they involve a lack of moving. Can not moving enough have potential negative effects on our health? Sitting, or sedentary periods, are not necessarily bad for you. It’s the sheer quantity that most people are sedentary that is proving to promote poor health.
A couple research points to consider:
- All-cause mortality was 1.54 times higher and death from heart disease was 64% greater in individuals who spend the majority of their day sitting compared to those that don’t.
- The “Active Couch Potato Effect” is a term to describe people who sit all day but meet the recommended 30-60 mins/day of physical activity. Research is telling us that this minimum amount of exercise is not enough to counter the negative effects (blood glucose, triglycerides and systolic blood pressure were all negatively impacted individuals living the Active Couch Potato lifestyle).
From a joint and muscle standpoint, excessive sitting can overuse certain muscles (spinal erectors, upper trapezius), while inhibiting others (gluteal muscles) and put our spine in a hyperkyphotic (rounded) position which creates spinal compression. The combination of all of this can cause altered movement patterns, which over time, results in pain and dysfunction.
Basically, the take home message is that a daily routine filled mostly with sedentary activities is not good for our overall health.
What can be done you ask?
Let’s address the obvious one first; it is essential that you create time in your daily routine for physical activity. This can be almost anything that gets you moving for at least 60 mins every day such as yoga, swimming, bike riding, hiking and weight training just to name a few. Choose activities that promote muscle strength, balance, and flexibility while getting your heart rate up. Choose a variety of activities to keep it fun, seek out a personal trainer or team up with a friend to ensure accountability. The best physical activity is the one you enjoy doing.
Are you stuck behind a desk at work? Try these tips:
- Take frequent breaks. At least once every hour stand up and stretch, march in place or walk around the office.
- Change up your workstation to incorporate an exercise ball instead of a chair, a stand up desk, a golf ball to roll your feet on, basically anything to engage your muscles while you are doing your work.
- Do these chair exercises multiple times throughout the day to prevent sustained poor posture:
Find ways to increase your NEAT
NEAT, or Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, is the physical activity that falls outside of our planned exercise. This can include taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to the store, cycle to work, or playing with your kids (instead of “supervising” while on your phone!). A study done at the Mayo clinic found that making some of the above changes to increase NEAT burned up to an additional 350 calories per day!
Move Your Joints!
At Kinetic Evolution we believe that every person should move every joint through its full range of motion everyday. The saying “If you don’t use it, you lose it” applies to our range of motion. If we don’t move our joints regularly then it will become increasingly difficulty to move pain-free. Our joints are self-lubricating, meaning that more movement will result in more production of joint fluid (synovial fluid). This fluid provides nutrients to the joint and helps prevent degeneration. Lack of motion will result in less lubrication and ultimately a stiffening of the joint. The tissues (muscles, connective tissue etc) around a stiff joint will become tight and hypertonic resulting in altered movement patterns. Setting aside 10-15 mins everyday to purposefully take every joint through its anatomical ROM is a great strategy to help promote joint health and keep you moving. Check out our video on a sample full body mobility routine:
Many times people will claim it is hard to find time to exercise. Isn’t it worth considering that living a life with pain, stiffness and being out of shape is much more difficult?