Side effects of Sitting

It’s well known that prolonged periods and inactivity can be detrimental to our health, but to what extent?

We all know that prolonged inactivity slows down our metabolism of sugars in food, which can lead to increased risk of obesity and therefore high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. As long ago as 1950, it was found that bus conductors were far less likely to suffer from a heart attack than their sedentary bus driver colleagues! A sedentary lifestyle also means that our digestive tract isn’t moving as much as it should be, this means less efficient digestion and an increased chance of bloating, reflux and wind. 

When sitting, we inhibit the movement of our diaphragm and therefore reduce the amount of oxygen we breathe in. If the diaphragm is reduced in its movements, we begin to engage our Accessory muscles of respiration which are in the neck and shoulders to aid our breathing. This can contribute to tightness in the neck and shoulders, increase stress and reduce productivity as the brain is not getting the right amount of oxygen. 

We should not forget how prolonged periods of inactivity can affect us physically in that sitting for hours on end contributes significantly to upper cross syndrome- which causes neck and shoulder pain and headaches. It can also lead to tightened hip flexors, weakened gluteal and lower back muscles. All of this can contribute to increased episodes of lower back pain and lower limb injury. Pain when sitting

There is hope! Remember, human beings are social animals that are designed to move! An Ergonomically designed desk and work station will help to reduce some risk of musculoskeletal injuries, but it won’t completely eliminate the risk. Recent research has found that regular Microbreaks every 30-40 minutes can be very effective in not only reducing the risk of physical problems, such as lower back pain, but also boost productivity and reduce stress. A Microbreak is a short break lasting between 30 seconds to 2 minutes and can be anything from getting up out of your chair to fill up your water bottle, leaning back in your chair to speak to the person next to you or even going for a walk in the corridor!

There are many ways to remind yourself to get up and move, so why not give Microbreaking a try next time you find yourself glued to your desk!

Written by the Osteopathic Team at the Vale Practice 


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