The previous Great NEWS post focused on how Is Blue Light Bad and Beneficial and today we learn how Sitting Makes US Old and Sick. How long do you sit still? Well that is too long. Most people do not understand the consequences of excessive sitting for long periods of time. Contrary to the idea that sitting is relaxing, when people sit still they are actually creating massive stress on their body and spine. Most people have become accustomed to sitting at the table, sitting on the way to work, sitting at work, sitting at home and sitting for entertainment. Sitting Makes US Old and Sick and is impacting our happiness and health so today we explain the problem and the solution.
The Great NEWS Coach blog series on Health Hazards is dedicated to alerting us to health hazards that are harming our happiness, harmony and health. While sitting may not seem very harmful, after reading this post you will have a whole new perspective on the dangers of simply sitting still. Most people are not even aware of how long they sit during the average day and the damaging consequence from this health hazard. Not understanding the fundamentals of alignment, ergonomic posture and smart sitting strategies will harm our happiness, harmony and health in numerous ways.
Today we will learn some basic anatomy and physiology regarding how our body is designed and meant to function. When we are in harmony with our physical function and structure it benefits our bank account, body and brain. When we are out of alignment and balance we will experience emotional and physical pain from the way our body and brain responds to the abuse we put them through. The goal today is to help us stop disrupting our body’s physical and structural alignment and start supporting our body with the exercise, movement and support it needs. Not doing this will result in disease, financial loss and physical pain. Many people are cutting short their fun, longevity and pleasure in life due to excessive and improper sitting behaviors and habits.
Our body is not naturally designed for long hours of sitting still. We evolved from Homo erectus (upright man) not Homo situs (sitting man). Just watch young children outdoors. They love to crawl, jump, play, run, skip and walk all day long. As adults we try to make them stop squirming and sit still at the table, in the car and at school. This is very difficult for kids because they have lots of energy and enthusiasm for being active and physical. Unfortunately over time we are conditioning children to be less active and training them for sitting still at school, watching movies and TV. Today we have a global epidemic of back problems, diabetes, disease and obesity that can all be tied back to sitting still too much.
We evolved to spend the majority of our time upright to carry, gather, hunt, run, walk and work when we are not lying down to rest and sleep. Today we spend the vast majority of our day sitting still on our buttocks at a bus, chair, computer, couch, desk, steering wheel, table or train. To make matter worse we are not even sitting still in an aligned and ergonomic way. We are sloughed back, down, head forward or to the side with our spine misaligned and twisted. This puts excessive pressure on our back, head, neck, muscles, shoulders, spine and tail bone.
Sitting Still is Painful
Sitting still puts excessive pressure and weight on our spine and tail bone. When we sit still for long periods of time we typically slouch and put the spine in an awkward and unnatural position. This causes other bones, joints and ligaments to be out of alignment and become strained and stressed. Over time this begins a compounding effect where our alignment and posture becomes more contorted and out of alignment. Since we have numerous nerves in our back, hips, neck and spine it is only a matter of time before they begin sending signals of discomfort and eventually pain. Back pain and problems is one of the leading health and productivity problems in the world.
With the invention of artificial lights and modern technology we can now live most of our life within the confines of a box like building, car, cubicle, desk, house, office, table or truck. This replaces standing and upright mobility with sitting still and stagnating. Our life has become significantly altered to be less active and physical and more inactive and mental oriented. This results in us being very mentally active yet sedentary. As a result we feel mentally exhausted but think we are physically exhausted so these mixed neurological signals cause us to do even more resting and sitting still.
As a result we are spending most of our waking time during the day sitting still and turning off our muscles and skeletal system from doing what they are designed to do. Worse yet is sitting in unhealthy and unnatural positions that make the problems even worse. Most chairs are not built or designed with quality ergonomic features and cause the body and spine to be contorted out of functional alignment and support with significant health and productivity consequences.
Sitting Makes US Suffer
Excessive sitting restricts our blood and lymph flow which are essential for delivering nutrients and oxygen to the cells and removing waste products. Our ligaments, muscles and tendons become less resilient and weaker. Also our endocrine, hormone and immune system are negatively affected without exercise and movement to keep them responsive and strong. Without exercise and fitness our blood sugar increases, our insulin production increases, our muscles get weaker and we put on fat which causes weight gain.
Our body is meant to be active and busy doing things to keep our muscular skeletal system strong and toned. Excess sitting has been liked to us being sad, sick, stressed and tired. Sitting still causes us weaker and less able to meet the demands of everyday life. People are more prone to disease, disability, injury and even death as they become more frail, inactive and weak from sitting.
With all of these significant downsides you may be wondering why so many people continue allowing poor posture and sitting still to weaken their body and brain. Unfortunately people are getting trapped in a crazy eight pattern where they seem to know something is not right but they are not sure what is wrong and how to fix it. There are a number of contributing factors for excessive sitting. Modern developed society is primarily driven by information and technology and less so by physical labor and movement. Many people are paid to sit to do most of their work.
The constant pressure and stress to perform mostly mental tasks often leads to long hours sitting still and being inactive. People are also not eating well, exercising, hydrating and maintaining their health. Alcohol, drugs, medicines and OTC affect our nervous system and thinking. Long commutes and even more hours sitting with family, friends and food as well as the computer or television results in the vast majority of the day spent sitting. Some people are sitting for ten or more hours a day and puzzled why they are gaining weight and have high blood pressure and high blood sugar.
Stop Sitting and Start Standing and Stretching
By now you are wondering what can be done to turn this tragedy around? The answer is easy to do yet not so easy to do depending on our mindset. We must create solutions, strategies, suggestions and support to assist people in changing their behaviors and habits and becoming more active and mobile.
Simple things can help us even while we are sitting. Avoid sitting back and learn to sit with your head up, hips back and shoulders back while periodically moving your feet from a foot rest to do a little happy dance. Take a happy break with the “Happy” song so moving your feet seems fun and natural. Caution the music can become addictive and happy feet can be contagious. Just thinking of the movie “Happy Feet” might make you want to dance.
Sitting on s Swiss exercise ball or special chair frame with a ball seat is a great way to engage the back and core muscles for healthy exercise. There are now standing desks to encourage people to be more erect and upright. More chairs are now designed with ergonomic comfort and support. Companies are promoting correct chair, computer, foot and monitor placement to prevent back, head and neck strain. There are special kneeling chairs and chairs without backs to require you to sit more upright. Some like the Swapper even have giant springs so you can bounce up and down and have some fun.
Many companies are encouraging employees to stand when they are talking on the phone or not actively on their computer. This standing allows better circulation and gives the body a chance to reduce tension on the spine and tail bone. Some people are learning chair yoga for a quick fitness and stretch break. People are actually more productive and profitable when they get up, move and stretch. Some companies are putting Power Plates and rebounders in areas that employees can access for a quick natural pick up instead of coffee and sodas. Doing some gentle arm extensions/ raises/ rotations, stretching, toe raises, yoga and weights are great ways to be healthy and get moving.
Today most people have too many excuses, justifications and reasons for sitting still for long periods. Technology had become a curse and cure if you know what to do. Avoid the temptation for sitting while watching the tube. Have you considered standing up to watch a movie or TV show? Better yet what if you were to hold hand weights or do some cardio exercise the entire time you were watching. Imagine how many calories you could burn during a 1 or 2 hour stretch. This way we are stimulating our body, brain and nervous system at the same time with no extra time needed.
Most people today are falling further behind on alignment, fitness, exercise and posture and as a result feel totally out of balance with their body, mind and spirit. When you sit on your tail bone all day you put excess pressure along the entire back, head, neck and spine which can cause back aches, head aches, neck aches and a pain in the buttocks. Eventually the entire muscular, nervous and skeletal system starts to malfunction and create pain as you start breaking down. When the body is not getting adequate blood flow and movement it is like a race car driven at 5 MPH. What a waste of potential and eventually that car will over heat and break down since you demand too little from it. We need to be physically active and flexible for our health, maintenance and well being.
Sitting Makes US Sad Sick and Stressed
At a minimum invest in a quick drink of water and one minute stretch break every fifteen minutes while sitting. It can be to do chair yoga, do lunges, foot rotations, rebound, stand up, stretch upward, power plate training, do squats or toe raises. Do anything beneficial that will get the blood and lymph moving and help realign your posture and skeletal system..
As you can clearly see there are many ways to stop sitting still and start grooving and moving to the sound of happy feet and happy music, even if it just in your head. Our body is meant to be very active and mobile to help maintain our happiness, harmony and health. The goal is to help people understand the benefits of sitting less and standing more so they stop harming themselves and start helping their body and mind to stay energized and young.
This Great NEWS post was intended as a pain in the buttocks to help people get our of their chair since Sitting Makes US Old and Sick. When we stop sitting so much and start standing, stretching and walking more we transform the quality of our health and life. Now that we understand Sitting Makes US Old and Sick what will you do with this information to make better choices and decisions?
What is your current Gap?
How much time on average do you spend sitting still each day?
Mastery Action Plan (MAP)
What mastery action plans will help you stop sitting still and start moving your body? Listen to the “Happy” song to be inspired. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM
Call to Action
What comments, commitments or concerns come to mind regarding sitting still or walking well? What healthy habits will you implement to enjoy more movement and less sitting each day for better health?
Next week the Great NEWS blog will share:
Avoiding Back Pain and Problems
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