Our bodies are built to move!
Some people typically spend 10 or more hours in a day sitting! This figure is only increasing with time. It is becoming more and more evident that sitting is not only killing us, but making our lives less comfortable. Sitting causes our bodies to essentially shut down.
Our bodies always want to move. The ways we are built and function prove this. All the time during which you are awake your internal body systems are working to ensure your body is prepared to move. Not only are our internal systems working, but our body structure is built in a way which optimizes our ability to move and be active.
• Our ability to stand up and hold ourselves in an upright posture suggests we are meant for moving and being on our feet.
• Our movements assist the flow of blood throughout the body through muscular contractions and limb movement.
• Our nerve cells achieve higher activation as a result from movement
• Our skin is elastic meaning it moulds in accordance to our limbs and movements.
When we sit down for longer periods of time, these systems slow become less responsive and are hindered.
The spine is destroyed by sitting. After hours of looking at the computer screen and reaching for the keyboard, supportive structures (muscles, ligaments, tendons) become tired and your upper body slumps forward into a hunched position. From here, the supportive structures are placed in an imbalance, meaning some muscles are strained more than others and some structures are compressed under your own body weight. This can lead to permanent damage, postural changes and chronic injuries to the back, shoulders and other joints.
Your ability to use your brain and work optimally is reduced. Not only is there structural damage, there is also a short term detriment to your lung capacity and your body’s ability to breathe in oxygen. Without sufficient blood flow and breathing capacity your brain does not receive oxygen and the energy which are vital for it to function optimally. This means as you work you will become lethargic. You won’t be able to think, learn, be creative or use your brain optimally at all.
Sitting down for a long time causes high compressive forces on our joints and structures in ways our body is not built for. How often have you got a numb leg while sitting in an odd position? Blood flow is reduced and nerves are compressed when we sit. This leads often to sensations of numbness when we sit in some positions.
Your body’s capacity to burn fat is reduced when you sit down. Key enzymes involved in the process of breaking down fat are temporarily deactivated during long periods of sitting. Lipoprotein lipase acts to break down fat within the blood stream. When blood flow is reduced, of course our metabolism is also reduced.
In the long term, sitting is causing premature deaths. Chronic illnesses incidences such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease all occur significantly earlier in life in people who sit for prolonged periods throughout their days, repeatedly. It is said that sitting causes 9% of premature deaths each year. That is a whopping 5 million people.
So you have to sit down for work…What can you do to prevent the detrimental effects of sitting down?
• Ensure that you pay attention to your posture. Sit with a straight spine to keep the surrounding structures and muscles strong and in balance.
• Get up and move around as often as you can. Set a reminder to get up at least once every half hour for a short walk, stretch or a quick micro workout.
Get up and get moving! Not only will you feel more energetic, be able to concentrate better, increase your metabolism and reduce your risk of injury, you will be thanking yourself in a few years’ time.
Remember to appreciate the fact that your body is made to move.
Check out our micro workout guide for inspiration and guidance to get up and active to break up sitting time.
What do you do to break up your sitting time?