The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

October 3, 2012

Sitting can be hazardous to your health

By Dr. Larry Bridge for the SNAP

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 — If your job requires you to sit all day in a vehicle or at a desk or if you are spending too many hours a day sitting in front of the television you are causing negative effects to your health.   

When people spend a lot of time sitting, for work or pleasure, there is an increased risk for low back problems, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and maybe an early grave. A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that women and men who sit for more than eight hours per day had a 15 percent greater chance of suffering a premature death than those who sit for less than four hours per day. Studies have also shown that sitting and an increased death rate even applied to people who moderately exercised regularly and even applied when weight and other health measures were taken into consideration.

So, what are some of the things that happen when we sit?   

For one, our muscles slow down and calories are burned at one third the normal rate.  As weeks pass with sitting more than six hours per day there is an increase in triglycerides and bad cholesterol, oxygen levels drop, blood sugar levels increase which can lead to weight gain and muscles start to atrophy.   

After years of sitting (10 to 20) you increase the risk of dying from heart disease by over 60 percent, increase the risk of breast and prostate cancer by nearly 30 percent and can shave up to seven years off your life.

Sitting And Your Back

When we sit we put ourselves into a compressed position. When we stand we put about 175 pounds of pressure on the discs and joints of the low back, with lying down it is about 90 pounds of pressure, but with sitting it is nearly 350 pounds of pressure on the low back. If you add driving, riding lawn mowers or tractors, four wheelers or heavy equipment to the equation we can increase the amount of pressure exponentially. No wonder truck drivers and heavy equipment operators are number one on the list for low back problems. The surprise is that number two on the list is the person who sits at a desk all day.  

So, how do we counter all of the negative effects of sitting? There are a few simple things that will help.  

First off, try to exercise for at least 30 minutes per day — jog, park at the far end of the supermarket parking lot and walk, ride a bike, dance or do jumping jacks.  

This won’t counteract the negative effects of sitting but will improve your overall health.

Second, get up from your desk or out of your vehicle every hour and walk around, do stretches, jog in place or use a bathroom on a different floor and use the steps. A recent Australian study showed that getting up once an hour can decrease most of the negative effects of sitting.  

Third, see a chiropractor regularly. A chiropractor can help you keep your joints freely moveable and in proper alignment to help keep you on the path to wellness and good health.