We all know that staying active is better for our health—the human body is designed to move, even if modern lifestyles aren’t designed to keep us moving. It’s too easy to get stuck behind a desk for eight hours or more, then go home and collapse into the couch to watch some television. Sitting all day may not seem like a serious health concern, but in fact, intensely sedentary habits can be more harmful to your health than smoking.
The problem is concerning enough that the scientific community has dubbed it “sitting disease.” The average American is sedentary for 21 hours each day, and that inactivity comes with a price. Prolonged sitting is associated with 34 chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, increased blood pressure, and obesity.
What Excessive Sitting Does to Your Body
When you’re inactive for long periods of time, a number of physical effects can occur that may gradually increase in severity over time. Your muscles don’t take up glucose (sugar) from your bloodstream as well, contributing to higher blood sugar levels. Blood can pool in your legs, which can be uncomfortable or painful, and eventually even contribute to the development of varicose veins.
Prolonged sitting can also tighten your hip flexor and hamstring muscles, as well as stiffening your joints. This tightness can lead to lower back pain and negative changes to your gait and balance. This is true even if your posture is relatively good while you’re sitting—if it isn’t, the effects are even worse.
Poor ergonomics when you’re sitting at your desk also strains your back, putting pressure on the disks and throwing your spine out of alignment. While many workplaces have taken steps to design workstations to alleviate some of these problems, many workers don’t have these kinds of setups at home. The increase in remote work over the last year and a half due to the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many workers are spending increasing hours sitting in improvised or less than ideal setups that are only making the negative physical effects of sitting worse.
An Easy Solution
Fortunately, combatting sitting disease is not hard, and it doesn’t require a commitment to a strenuous exercise program. To begin with, you can break up periods of sitting during your workday by setting reminders to stand up, move around a bit, and do a few stretches. You can also add walking to your routine.
Walking is frequently recommended by doctors because it is easy to do, doesn’t require special equipment, and is gentler to the joints than some other forms of exercise such as running. It’s also easy to scale the intensity of a walking workout to your ability. Beginners can opt for shorter walks on level ground, while those looking to challenge themselves can go for longer hikes on hilly trails or just pick up the pace. You don’t have to break a sweat to see a physical benefit, and as a bonus, walking also improves your mood by reducing the level of the stress hormone cortisol.
Back Health and Total Body Health
If the answer is so simple, why don’t more people use it? By the time they’ve realized they have a problem they need to do something about, they may already be in too much physical discomfort to easily get up and move. If this is where you’re at, Divine Spine can help. A properly aligned spine is key to being able to move without pain. Our approach is about supporting wellness through gentle treatment and an overall lifestyle plan to promote good health and habits.
Divine Spine restores the range of movement in your spine comfortably and safely with our Electronic Vertebral System (EVA), which delivers precise, targeted adjustments without any twisting or popping. With locations in Yorba Linda and now the City of Orange, our unique chiropractic services are available to Orange County residents of all ages. To find out more about our services or to schedule a free initial consultation, contact us here.