To Sit or Stand at Work?
The Answer is Not What You Think
Standing desks and even treadmill desks are becoming increasingly popular --and for good reason. There is a growing body of evidence that sitting all day is surprisingly bad for your health.
- A study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that sitting for long stretches, more than six hours a day, can make someone at least 18% more likely to die from diabetes, heart disease and obesity than those sitting less than three hours a day.
- Alpa Patel, an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, tracked the health of 123,000 Americans between 1992 and 2006. The men in the study who spent six hours or more a day of their leisure time sitting had an overall death rate that was about 20 percent higher than the men who sat for three hours or less. The death rate for women who sat was about 40 percent higher. Patel estimates that on average, people who sit too much shave a few years off of their lives.
- A 2010 editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that those who sit for prolonged periods have a higher risk of disease than those who move a muscle every now and then in a non-exercise manner, such as walking up the stairs to grab a cup of coffee.
- Researchers at the American Cancer Society found that even if you exercise nearly every day, those health benefits can be undone if you spend the rest of your time on your butt.
Why is sitting so hard on your health? Marc Hamilton, an inactivity researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center states that when we're sitting, "The muscles go as silent as those of a dead horse." This leads to a cascade of harmful metabolic effects. Your calorie-burning rate immediately plunges to about one third of what it would be if you got up and walked. Your insulin effectiveness drops within one day and your risk of Type 2 diabetes and obesity rises. The enzymes responsible for breaking down fats in your body plunge, which in turn causes the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol to fall.
These kind of statistics have gotten many corporations to get standing desks for their workers. However, standing at work is now known to be bad for your health as well. According to Cornell Universities ergonomics web, "Standing to work has long been known to be problematic, it is more tiring, it dramatically increases the risks of carotid atherosclerosis (nine-fold) because of the additional load on the circulatory system, and it also increases the risks of varicose veins, so standing all day is unhealthy. The performance of many fine motor skills also is less good when people stand rather than sit."
If we can't stand and we can't sit, what should we do? The answer is surprisingly affordable: sit on a Fit Ball. Priced at around $40 they are a cheap way to keep all of the muscles working as well as keep the proprioceptors, your balance nerves, firing. Plus, you must maintain good posture to sit on the ball because otherwise you'll fall off. While you are sitting on a fitness ball, your body is forced to maintain a level of balance and control. Being on the round and unstable surface of your fitness ball forces all of the deep stabilizers that keep your posture tall to work together as a unit.
It is also a good idea to take standing breaks often. Get up to get a cup of water, walk around while you are on the phone (with a headset of course), take the stairs, and just get off your keister.
Here are some tips while sitting on the Fit Ball:
Posture on the ball
Lift tall through your spine pulling the top of your head toward the ceiling. Pull your chin back so that your ears are in line with your shoulders. Pull your shoulders back and your rib cage down in front. Pull your belly button towards our spine. Keep your elbows in close to your body with a 90 degree bend at the elbow and a flat wrist. A keyboard with a narrow width helps. Keep that mouse in close, not off to the side.
Use a Ball that is the Right Size for You
When you are sitting on your ball your hips and knees should be at about a ninety-degree angle with your feet flat on the floor. It is okay for your hips to be slightly higher than your knees but not the other way around. If you need a stool for your feet, that's fine.
At Core Wellness Chiropractic, we can fit you with the accurate size of Fit Ball.
How to Maximize Your Comfort While Sitting On a Fitness Ball
Let's face it, sitting on anything for a long time is not great for your body. Here are some easy ways to relieve some of the pressure and strain that it causes for your body.
- Bounce: Gently bouncing on the ball aligns your spine in its most efficient position and improves the endurance of your postural muscles. Bounce for a few minutes at least every hour that you are sitting. Never bend or twist while you are bouncing because you may fall off!
- Hip Rolls: While Sitting On a Fitness Ball make a circle with your hips. Do 10 circles in each direction about every hour. This will help to relieve and stretch the muscles of your hips, pelvis, and spine.
- Pelvic Tilts: Tuck your pelvis under and then go the opposite way by sticking your butt out. Move back and forth, going a little further each time. Repeat about 10 times. This motion opens up the muscles around the pelvis and low back.
Do you like what you're reading? Want a more catered approach to what ails you? Call us today to schedule a consultation. We can also fit you for a Fit Ball. 510-922-1579 or visit us at core-wellnesschiro.com.
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