Written by: Isabella Peters- Third year Exercise and Sport Science student at Deakin University.
Sitting time! Known to be one of our societies silent killers. We are constantly sitting in our car driving to work, sitting in front of a computer screen all day, sitting down to have our lunch, attend meetings and sitting in front of the TV to relax and unwind with our favourite TV shows. Our busy lifestyles are proving to make time for exercise more and more difficult.
However, sedentary behaviour, which is defined as time spent non- exercising or taking part in seated activities has been associated with an increased risk of numerous chronic health conditions. These chronic diseases can be deadly and include an increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes, metabolic disease, Cardiovascular disease, cancer, weight gain and back and neck pain (etc etc….)
But why is sitting for long periods so bad?
- Your muscles are getting weaker!
The more time we spend sitting the less we are using them therefore this results in muscle dystrophy and can result in injuries and increased risk of falls. Loss of muscle (known as Sarcopenia) is also associated with a reduced metabolism and can cause corresponding associated weight gain.
- Detrimental impact on your posture.
Sitting for prolonged periods can significantly affect your posture; including a decrease in hip flexion, an increase in posterior pelvic tilt, an increased thoracic kyphosis and corresponding forward head posture. These postural deviations can cause pain in the lower back and neck. As well as putting pressure on the spinal discs which overtime can lead to degeneration and irritation of the joints in your lower back.
- Energy imbalance
The more time spent sitting – the less time your expending energy. When there is an energy imbalance between food ingested and minimal energy expended this can lead to weight gain. Increase in weight can lead to other chronic conditions such as increased blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The world health organisation (WHO) recommends you participate in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. Here are some strategies to increase your activity levels through the day even if you are confined to a desk.
- Go for a walk in your lunch break. This can give you some much needed fresh air to clear your head as well as catching some Vitamin D. You can eat your lunch throughout the day and use this time to get your minutes of physical activity in
- Get up every 30-45 minutes and moving around. By constantly moving your body you are going to burn energy as well as stretch and readjust your posture
- Choose the stairs over the elevator. Not only does this increase your heart rate it releases endorphins which will put you in a better mood throughout the day
- Instead of emailing your colleague, walk over to them, and tell them in person. Alternatively organise a walk and talk meetings rather than sitting at a disk
Incorporate walking when going to work. Parking that bit further away or getting off a stop early on the train or tram so you can increase your daily physical activity.
Every bit counts!! Trying to be as active in as many ways as possible will contribute to you feeling happier and healthier!!