Why Sitting is Taking Years Off Your Life… 4 Tips To Combat This!

Want to know why sitting is taking years off your life?  Read on to find out…


I wanted to share a question that was recently asked by one of our amazing clients, Josh, who’s 48 years old from Del Mar, California. Now Josh asked me,

“I recently read an article that says, ‘Americans are spending more time sitting than ever and it’s wreaking havoc on our bodies to the point that sitting is basically killing us and is now considered the new ‘smoking’ epidemic.’ Is this true?”

Sitting is the new smoking

Well, if you’re thinking, “No way, that’s not true,” then how about we break down your day into either time spent sitting from when you commute to work, eating all your meals, and working at your desk. Then commute back home, only to sit down again to either binge watch your favorite TV shows, browse the internet, or read and respond to those endless emails.

So it’s easy to see how the hours spent sitting can quickly add up. And as technology’s advancing, almost everything we do now involves sitting down. And let’s be real, sitting for some of us can be a little like what eating chips and salsa is for me.

Rarely do we eat them in moderation. For the past two decades, doctors and research scientists have been studying the deadly impact of sitting too much. And, now, finally, the media has more recently caught up to name the issue a public health crisis because of the broad body of evidence linking sedentary behavior to a wide range of negative medical outcomes.

Too Much Sitting

As little as two continuous hours of sitting increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and for sure neck and back pain.  Even cancer and many other orthopedic problems increase static positioning. So prolonged sitting makes you less active. It brings a laundry list of medical problems which will shorten your life faster than smoking does.

What’s even more shocking is the fact that many recent studies are also demonstrating that the effects of long-term sitting are not reversible through exercise or other good habits. This means that if you eat well and work out religiously for an hour a day, but then sit for all or most of your waking hours, you’re sitting behavior will chip away or even cancel out the benefits of all your exercise at the gym because you’re still considered a sedentary person.

And then over time this habit puts strain on your neck and back muscles causing them to tighten up. This, as you already know, isn’t a good feeling. This is why sitting in a slouched position is the number one cause of neck and back pain for people who visit our clinic.

It Affects Your Hips

And let’s not forget how sitting for long periods of time affects your hip and leg muscles too. It makes muscles like your hamstrings and hip flexors tighten up while others weaken, like your glutes, because they’re shut off when you’re sitting on them. So when your muscles are not being stretched.  And not being used appropriately throughout the day, over time, this can cause a lack of general flexibility, mobility, soreness, and even joint pain issues.

So you’re probably now asking, “How do I make sense of all this information and fix it?” Well, the answer’s simple. The reality is, you and I need to sit less and implement a few things throughout our day. So here are four quick and easy tips I recommend you can begin doing today.

Tip 1:

If you have the capability, stand up when talking on the phone. I actually much prefer walking and talking at the same time.

Tip 2:

Set a timer on either your smartphone, watch, or computer for every 30 minutes to remind you to take a quick break and stand up from your desk and walk around.

Tip 3:

Make sure you make a habit to stretch daily, whether it’s in the morning, when you get home, while you’re taking breaks from your desk, before and after a workout, or even before bed. You have many opportunities to stretch throughout the day.

Tip 4:

Learn to improve your sitting posture and have regular posture check-ins with yourself. Make sure you’re sitting up tall with your bottom all the way to the back of the chair. You may also want to consider using a footrest or a towel roll in the small of your back for support.

Remember, we’re creatures of habit and our bodies are a result of those habits. Getting up and moving and stretching more, might feel hard at first, but do it enough, and it will soon become second nature. You’ll feel healthier, more active, and reduce the risk of neck and back pain too.

So there you have it. Now you have a better understanding as to why sitting is currently being labeled as the new smoking epidemic. And, as a bonus, you’re also taking away four quick tips you can use to help you avoid the effects of prolonged sitting. Now make sure you check in with us weekly where we will try to provide you with the most accurate information about the most asked topics.

If you are currently suffering with back pain or neck pain (or ANY kind of pain!) why not request a free telephone consultation with one of our therapists to find out if we can help you?

Click Here To Request a FREE Telephone Consultation »
Latest posts by Oscar Andalon, DPT, STC, MTC, CSCS, CF-L1, MWOD, USAW, FMS/SFMA (see all)

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