I have been warning people for years about the dangers of too much sitting. Now a number of sources have come up reasons not to sit too long that further convinced me!
Firstly, sitting is known to be one of the most compressive position on the spine and has been thought to lead to potential disc injury over time.
Our discs are tough but they are not meant to be constantly loaded without a break. Some people are lucky and have a greater degree of protection due to their genetics. Not everyone is this lucky. Typically I tell people, especially those with a history of acute low back pain attacks, not to sit for more than 30 minutes without either getting up or changing the position they are working in. This is all common sense and is easy to understand (although I do understand that some people might have different opinions).
Secondly, the new information (not that new really) shows that there is a high correlation between the amount of time you sit and the development of certain illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure . This can certainly affect the average person but some groups are more prone to these diseases and sitting less might be one thing a person could do that would help to lower their risks. There has even been talk that people working hard to maintain their fitness, such as runners, can loose up to 8% of the benefit of their run from every hour that they are sitting. One author came up with the term ”active couch potatoes” to describe athletes who sit too much. Alex Hutchinson , on the Runner’s World web site commented
” sitting appears to have some significant bad effects that can’t be “cancelled out” by exercising. Too much sitting and not enough exercise are two different things, and they’re both worth paying attention to. ”
Finland have worked out ways to minimize the effects of sitting on children by including a 15 minute break in every hour in the class room. I believe that this was put in place to help stop children from being restless. it has the potential to help in so many areas that it is something schools might want to consider bringing in anywhere. Businesses could learn from this example and help to reduce occupational health risks, as well as cardiovascular diseases, by encouraging regular breaks at work. Too often you hear that people work through their lunches and breaks, come to work early and stay well beyond what one might consider a reasonable working day.
Although the focus is often to try and help physical health getting up and being active has been recognised as a valuable tool in combating some mental health issues. Centres like the Mayo Clinic have strongly encouraged exercising, such as walking, as one tool to help combat complaints such as depression,
It may sound like a rant but the benefits of getting up and moving about, both physical and mental, are too important to be ignored. Some are calling sitting ”the new smoking” (Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative) because of all the associated problems that can be linked to inactivity. Perhaps instead of just saying prevention is better than cure we should be looking at ways to put good ideas into practice. As ”James Brown” once so aptly put it ”get up off of that thing”!