By Luke Coutinho
When you are in pain, it may be hard to make yourself get up and move, but consider this; a growing body of evidence suggests that spending too many hours sitting is hazardous to your health. Habitual inactivity raises risks for obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, deep-vein thrombosis, and metabolic syndrome.
Researchers aren’t sure why prolonged sitting has such negative health consequences, but one possible explanation is that it relaxes your largest muscles. When muscles relax, they take up very little glucose from the blood, raising your risk of type 2 diabetes. In addition, the enzymes that break down blood fats (triglycerides) plummet, causing levels of the ‘good’ cholesterol, HDL, to fall too. The result is a higher risk of heart disease.
Sitting can also increase pain. Even if you’re reasonably active, hours of sitting – whether reading a book, working on the computer, or watching TV – tighten the hip flexor and hamstring muscles and stiffen the joints themselves. Overly tight hip flexors and hamstrings affect gait and balance, making activities like walking harder and perhaps even setting you up for a fall. Plus, tight hip flexors and hamstrings may contribute to lower back pain and knee stiffness, scourges that many people suffer with every day.
Breaking up long blocks of sitting to flex muscles seems like a wise move for all of us, so try and build more activity in your day.
Take your phone calls standing up. Try an adjustable standing chair for your computer. Use stability balls to sit on, which make you use your muscles to stay upright. Engage in yoga, stretching and joint pain relief exercises.
You might want to start being active right now, as the older you get, the more difficult it gets to strengthen these muscles and almost all back pains are caused due to inactivity.
This is especially important for kids who spend too much time in front of TV and video games.
Stay active and don’t sit for long periods of time.
If you are in pain, you should still move (check with your doctor) as sitting can actually make it worse.
A sedentary lifestyle is killing people today, bringing on deadly diseases; even cancer and that coupled with junk food, less hours of sleep and increasing stress just makes it worse.
It’s ok to have a driver, and use your car through the day, but be aware of that and make sure you make time to get physically active. Inactivity kills.
Remember, for optimum health, it’s a combination of great nutrition, physical activity, adequate sleep and managing your stress levels.