In Part 1 of my post about exercising the brain, I pointed out how the sedentary lifestyle – sitting around all day at home and at work – is terrible for the brain. In fact, sitting is the new smoking.
As much as I would like to say I came up with that painfully true observation, credit goes to Dr. Anup Kanodia, a physician and researcher at the Center for Personalized Health Care at Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Kanodia cited a 2012 Australian study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Researchers estimated that every hour spent sitting around watching television reduces life expectancy by about 22 minutes, while a single cigarette shaves 11 minutes off of the smoker’s life.
The study points to the fact that sitting is bad for calorie burning, suppresses production of enzymes that convert bad cholesterol into good cholesterol, and can result in insulin resistance. All of these factors can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
And let’s face it. You can’t spell “obesity” without “sit.”
Even if you think the findings of that study might be difficult to swallow, plenty of data exists that suggests excessive sitting leads to poor health.
First, we need to realize that the human body was designed for movement. All of the world’s ergonomic inventions, while helpful, won’t overcome the fact that our bodies aren’t capable of supporting the forces created in the seated position.
That’s why we get those aches and pains in our back, neck, shoulders, wrists and hips. Sitting can even cause headaches and poor blood circulation.
As a chiropractor, I see the effects of a sedentary lifestyle every day in clinical practice. This is the kind of health issues I discuss during my Wellness At Work health education seminars for businesses and organizations.
Many scientists estimate that Americans spend more than half of their time awake planted squarely on their rumps. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that excessive sitting has become a leading cause of obesity, and more research is pointing in that direction.
You may be working long hours at your desk to earn a promotion or pay increase, but the price your body pays probably isn’t worth it. A 2012 study published in Diabetologia found that people who spent the most time sitting were at an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular events and death.
Now I’m not trying to scare you into quitting your desk job. But you can certainly take steps to save your body from the effects of excessive sitting. In fact, a study published in Diabetes Care found that a brisk two-minute walk every 20 minutes can boost your glucose metabolism.
I think all of us can spare six minutes per hour, especially if it contributes to improved productivity for the remaining 54 minutes. In addition to frequent exercise breaks, we need to use good posture, make better nutritional decisions, avoid stressful situations as much as possible and get plenty of rest.
Simply put, we need to make better decisions, and sitting in a chair for hours at a time is not a good decision. If we make the choice to get up and get moving, we can feel better, function better and live longer.
I would love to have the opportunity to speak to your business or organization about health issues in the workplace. For more information about my Wellness At Work program, please call (732) 222-2219 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician and health educator who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise for the past two decades has been in physical rehabilitation, and he has successfully established himself as a spinal specialist. In his practice, he advocates the science of functional medicine, which takes an integrative approach to treating patients by addressing their physical, nutritional, and psychological needs. Alarmed by the escalation of complex, chronic illness in our country, Dr. Proodian has been speaking to companies and organizations through his “Wellness at Work” program since 1994, motivating thousands of people to make positive lifestyle choices and lead healthier, more productive lives. He can be heard weekly on his radio program, “Proodian Healthcare By Design,” on Tandem Radio.