Is Sitting the Next Great Killer?


Hooookay so, you'll have to forgive me if today's (or rather, this week's) post is a bit short, as I'm heading to Country Fest at Gillette Stadium tomorrow afternoon. Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, and Eli Young Band are all going to be there, and I'm about as excited as a 5th grade girl waiting to see her first Justin Bieber concert. (The slight difference being that Country Fest will be filled with about 300 times more rednecks than a Bieb concert.)

That said, I stumbled on this blog post the other day:  Sitting is the Smoking of Our Generation.  Go ahead and read it, I'll wait for you.

No, seriously.  I'm waiting.. 

Ok, ready?  Before you freak out that you're sitting while reading this blog post, realize that it's still not hurting your health (as well as those around you) as much as smoking.  But, the article goes hand in hand with what I see everyday - many people just don't move outside of the gym.  

Take it for what it's worth, but often times my clients and I find ourselves shoveling against the tide due to all of their sitting.  Sometimes you just need to put the goal of getting people stronger on the backburner (yes, it's true), when someone has crazy imbalances, and are in near debilitating back pain from a long week at a desk.

Anecdotally, I never realized how much sitting was impacting my body while I was at my old desk job.  It wasn't until I switched careers that my back felt umptillion times better, my right hip stopped bothering me, and my leg raise pattern improved quite significantly.

To add to this point, here are a few facts that are pointed out from the article:

  • We often sit more than we sleep (9.3 hours vs. 7.7 hours)
  • For each additional hour of TV that Australians watched, their risk of dying rose by 11% 
  • The lack of physical activity (due to sitting) has an increased risk of heart disease, Type II diabetes, and breast or colon cancer.

So, sitting is bad.  But, here comes the million dollar question:   what can we do about it? The answer is well, it depends - on both your will to live as long as you can and getting out of your comfort zone.

 Sadly, this a reality for most of us!

Sadly, this a reality for most of us!

Below are several ideas that can be used to beat the seat (that's my new phrase) and improve your health:

  • Stand in meetings - this can be a tricky one as standing in a meeting can make others feel awkward (especially if they don't lift heavy things like you do). Going back to my desk job days, I always tried to come up with some sort of excuse to stand in a meeting if everyone else was sitting.  I'd simply say that my back hurt if I sat down, or that standing simply made me "think on my feet....literally."
  • Erect a standing desk - a few of my clients have converted their typical sitting desks to the standing variety, and have had a ton of success in eliminating much of their back pain.  While the logistics can be tough, try it when you can and watch yourself become more awesome.
  • Conduct walking meetings - this one is covered in the blog post I shared above, so I don't need to go into too much detail.  But, I do remember that the few times I actually had a walking meeting with a boss, I can recall much more than any others.
  • Actually take a break every 2-3 hours to walk around - while the recommended amount of time to stand up and take a break is every hour, let's be realistic here.  Not only is taking break a hard thing to do from a concentration perspective, but sometimes, there's just certain people around the office that you don't want to run into.  Antisocial commentary aside, by taking a break every few hours you can take a longer break, avoid them, and walk more.

So, is sitting the next great killer?  The jury is probably out on that one, as there are many more issues that can affect our nation's health (processed food, the loss of social interactions, just to name a few).  But, do what you can to get out of your chair!