One of the most common ailments we deal with both as a Physical Therapy office and a Personal Training location is poor posture and its many consequences, from lower back pain to muscle stiffness. A common cause of poor posture is prolonged sitting, which most of us tend to do for many hours each day while working or driving.
The latest research shows that sitting is also a major contributor to heart disease, diabetes and even depression. You can learn some of the basic concepts by listening to this NPR interview with James Levine, co-director of the Mayo Clinic/Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and the author of Get up!: Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About It.
If you don't have time to listen to it, his core argument, which is backed up by their research, is that the negative health effects of prolonged sitting are even worse than we thought, and they aren't completely offset by regular doses of intense exercise. The best cure for the ailments caused by prolonged sitting is less sitting.
According to Levin's research, the benefits of standing or even walking while performing daily tasks are not only physical, but also mental and emotional. Studies show that people that use standing desks such as one of these or even the astonishing treadmill desk have more energy and better concentration. This is something football announcers, DJs and Wall Street floor traders have known for a long time as they tend to stand while working even though their job could be performed while sitting. Parents of children with ADHD take note: they've also found positive results changing primary school layouts to include more learning while not sitting.
So try to find opportunities to minimize sitting, even if its something as simple as getting up and walking around every time you take a phone call. While on the subject of modern life and posture, we should also warn you about the dangers of smartphones and tablets. In recent years we've seen an uptick of patients with neck pain, probably from tilting their heads down to look at their mobile device. The better approach is to lift your device up to eye level while keeping you neck in a neutral position.
If you are already feeling the negative effects of sitting too much (or playing Candy Crush too much) and want to actively reverse them, our Physical Therapists and Personal Trainers are here to help, so just ask.