To Sit or To Stand? Health Risks & The Surprising Solution
If you sit all day, you’re killing yourself slowly. If you stand all day, well, you’re killing yourself slowly. Will the real solution to this problem please stand up—or sit down?
Have you considered how much of your day involves sitting? You sit for meals. You sit in the car on your way to work, where you sit at a desk, then again driving home. Then you’re home, and it’s time to catch up on your DVR. Now you’re wondering if you should start standing at meals, at work, and during at least one episode of The Walking Dead. Case closed, right? If only it were that simple. While sitting all day long is not the best choice, and can be linked to type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, kidney disease in women, cardiovascular disease, and a host of other chronic issues relating to obesity, standing all day is also not the completely correct alternative.
After a gazillion studies came out condemning sitting all day as “more dangerous than smoking”, a new trend emerged; standing. More specifically, standing workstations. These neat inventions allow you to adjust your entire workspace to a sitting or standing position. However, with the evolution of the workspace also comes new and fun health risks. Standing all day can increase the risks of carotid atherosclerosis, putting more stress on the circulatory system, and increases the risk for varicose veins. Fine motor skill performance can also suffer. And if you don’t have the desk situated correctly, giving you proper posture, wrist positioning, and neck posturing, you could be doing more damage than good.
So what IS the answer here? To stand up, sit down, or somewhere in between (squatting is good, right)? Here’s the truth. Sitting isn’t going to kill you, and standing isn’t going to kill you either. Being sedentary, whether on your tush or standing on your feet, THAT is what is killing you. Being in one stationary, sedentary position for more than 60-90 minutes at a time, no matter what position it is, is not good for you.
Hit The Gym
Another field of thought is that jamming in an hour of exercise at the end of a 10-hour workday (if you can muster the energy to do so) will offset the negative effects of being a statue all day. Unfortunately, that is also not a fix-all solution. If you’re stiff all day, then you go do an hour of HIIT or anything else to get your blood pumping, you’re forcing heavy blood flow through veins that have been constricted from lack of movement all day. That would be like trying to force water through a hose that is kinked. It may actually cause more harm then good. Although exercise is always a good idea, you’d need to do one hour of exercise per 6-7 hours of sedentary time. When you figure in kids, spouse time, errands outside of work, and life in general, adding 10 hours of working out per week seems like a lot of work.
Now that we have covered everything wrong with what we do, let’s dive into what we CAN do to try to prevent sitting and standing from laying us in an early grave. We know that you cannot avoid the need to sit at a workstation or to be on your feet all day, but there is a lot you can do to make sure you’re not doing unnecessary damage.
Mom was always telling you to stand up straight and stop hunching, right? She wasn’t wrong. Positioning your body so it has proper alignment, whether you are sitting, standing, or lying down, is actually really important. It places less strain on ligaments when you’re moving and doing weight-bearing activities. When you achieve that correct alignment, your muscles and joints can move correctly. Your body is kind of like a machine, and if the alignment is off, things start moving in weird ways and joints start complaining and wearing down. If your car wasn’t steering correctly, you’d get the alignment checked. The same is true for your body. Regular chiropractic care in Mesa can keep your alignment in check, help correct posture, and help to alleviate, or even prevent, neck and back pain.
Keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest if they don’t touch the floor, and don’t cross them. Don’t have your legs pressed all the way to the front of the seat, maintain a small gap. Your ankles should be just ahead of your knees, and your knees should be at or below your hip crease. Make sure your low back is supported, maintaining a slight curve in your low back. Forearms should be parallel to the ground, and your shoulders shouldn’t be bunched, but more relaxed.
Most of your body weight should be on the balls of your feet, and you should always avoid locking your knees, keeping them slightly bent. Feet should be shoulder width apart, and pulled back, with a straight spine. You should not be kinking your neck forward or back, rather keep your earlobes parallel with your shoulders. Shift your weight front and back, and side to side, if you have to stand in a stationary position for a long time. Avoid letting your hip pop out, bearing all the weight on one side or the other.
Have your Mesa Chiropractor check your posture, and show you what it should feel like in a sitting and standing position to have proper alignment. And while you’re there, have your alignment checked!
The Total Solution
You’re going to have to sit for an extended period of time, and you’re going to have to be on your feet for an extended period of time. C’est la Vie. Paying attention to how to you are standing and sitting is important while in those positions, but taking breaks and moving your body around, that is the real key. Get that activity in whenever, and wherever you can. Here’s a few simple tips that you’ve probably already seen, but who doesn’t need a reminder every once in a while:
- Park at the back of the lot and walk. Simple, right? And here in Arizona, you won’t even have to walk one mile in the snow. Enjoy your walk into work, soak up that vitamin D, and say hello to all the flowers and cacti on the way in.
- Take the stairs. Again, simple. You’ll get a bit of cardio, and add to your step count for the day.
- Bluetooth. Yes, Bluetooth. Pop that little technological device on and walk around during your phone calls. You’ll be surprised how many steps you can log while getting your work done.
- Close out your email, and hand deliver your work to your co-workers. You’ll get some steps, and maybe familiarize yourself with the people you work with.
- Make sure to take a break from being sedentary for 5 minutes every hour.
- Walk on your break. Take the stairs back down, and go outside for lunch. Find a new picnic bench and enjoy that beautiful, Arizona weather.
Preventative maintenance is also a key ingredient. Not just for your car, but for your chiropractic health. Don’t go into a chiropractor for back pain or neck pain when you’re already out of commission. Talk to our chiropractors here at My Body Workz and set up a maintenance plan. Proper posture, consistent movement, and proper Mesa chiropractic care is a formula for success. Talk with our chiropractors about posture and exercise. You’ll get some great information, and it’ll put a smile on their face that you care!