Death by Sitting!

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It is becoming increasingly clear that sitting for extended periods is one of the most dangerous activities that we can undertake as human beings. The World Health organisation ranks sitting too much as the fourth biggest preventable killer globally, causing an estimated 3.2 million deaths annually. It increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, back and neck pain. In fact, it may be even more dangerous than smoking in terms of life expectancy and certainly has a massive impact on quality of life, including brain function.

We are designed for movement through the environment and we have evolved with this goal in mind. Yet, even the most active amongst us struggle to achieve more than 3-4 hours of non-sedentary time each day, with less than one hour being the norm. We wake up, sit down to breakfast, sit in our cars to drive to work, then probably sit at a desk, sit down for lunch, sit down again to drive home, then often sit down to watch television in the evening. It is practically impossible, when sitting, to organise the spine properly, as we cannot squeeze the gluteals and brace the belly in this position. Even if we train regularly once or twice a day, this does little to offset the damage of all the sitting in between. What is needed is continuous movement throughout the day to keep everything functioning normally. Even elite athletes display all the symptoms of a life spent largely sitting when not training; tight hips and ankles, stiff rounded shoulders, poorly organised spines etc.

So what can be done in practical terms? Firstly be aware of time spent sitting and, wherever possible take regular movement breaks. Perhaps set an alarm to go off every 30 minutes to remind you to stand up and move for 5 minutes. This will increase, not reduce, your productivity as brain function improves with movement. Invest in a movement tracking device such as a Fitbit or similar. The Tom Tom 2 that I wear actually measures moving time, as opposed to steps and can be very shocking. Set yourself targets for moving time. Standing work stations or standing while on devices are also good options. Just build in as much non-exercise, low intensity movement as possible into your day and avoid sitting wherever practical. This will also promote better recovery from hard training sessions as an added benefit.

There are also some very good exercises that you can perform to offset some of the damage caused by sitting. Get in touch with me for more information on the effects of this and other postural issues on your functioning and the knock on effects on your training and sport. Free consultations always available by calling me on 07504439555 or by email at davidperry57@sky.com.

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