Dr. Bell's Blog

How Much Sitting Is Too Much?

We sit.  We sit a lot.  We now live in a world where computerized technology is a part of a vast majority of what we do everyday.  Technology brings us a ton of benefit and convenience, but it also has a few drawbacks as well. For starters, it is now estimated over 34 million Americans have jobs that force them to remain seated for more than 8 hours per day.  Outside of work, most Americans continue to sit, leading to the average person spending more than half of their waking hours in an inactive state.

What Happens To Your Spine?

Sitting, slumped over at a computer screen for 8 hours is particularly bad for your neck. Prolonged strain from poor cervical posture can cause damage to the muscles, discs, and even the vertebrae.  Rapid spinal degeneration is a common result of repetitive strain on the neck.  When it comes to the rest of your spine, particularly the lower back, moving around on a daily basis is especially important. This helps provides good flexibility, and allows proper nutrients and blood flow to the discs.  Sitting long and frequently, causes the opposite.  Disks become uneven, compacted, leading to frequent disc herniations as a result.

What Happens To The Rest of Your Body...

Sitting for long periods of time can produce a variety of health concerns.  These can include circulation problems, specifically swollen ankles, blood clots, and varicose veins.  Prolonged inactivity can also lead to the development of osteoporosis.  This happens from the use it or lose it principle.  Regular weight bearing activity such as running or walking helps to keep bones strong and thick.  In the absence of this, bones become weak and brittle from lack of use.  

What Are Some Solutions?

To keep it simple, be committed to maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle outside of your job.  Regardless of what your job requires of you, it is still important to find 20-30 minutes everyday to engage in some sort of weight bearing physical activity.  Here are a few simple ideas to combat sedentary work stress that you can incorporate during your workday.

  • Stretch:  Every 30 minutes during the workday stop what you are doing, stand up and stretch and walk around.  This will help maintain flexibility, reduce achiness, and maintain normal blood flow throughout your body.
  • Walk:  Walking is one of the best activities for everyone.  A brisk walk for 5-10 minutes in the middle of the day can help recharge your batteries and clear your brain.
  • Exercise Ball Chair:  This one may seem a little odd, but can be very effective.  Using an exercise ball forces you to use your abs, causing you to naturally keep your body straight.  This will help avoid slouching and other forms of poor posture.  

Lastly, don't forget about staying regular with your chiropractic adjustments.  Spinal stress is higher from sedentary jobs than many others.  Combined with a healthy lifestyle, chiropractic care can help keep you healthy regardless of your profession.

LIVE well.  BE well.