One theory as to why prolonged sitting is harmful to one’s health is that while sitting, the large muscles become relaxed. As these muscles relax they do not take up very much glucose from the blood. As a result, the risk for Type II diabetes becomes increased along with heart disease and some cancers.
Immediately after sitting down, muscle electrical activity and metabolism slow down, as a result less calories are burned. Only 1 calorie per minute is burned while sitting. That is 1/3 of what the body burns when walking.
After a prolonged period of this lifestyle, LDL cholesterol (bad) increases and weight gain occurs.
Sitting can also cause hip flexor and hamstring muscles (back of thigh) to tighten. This may lead to joints and knees becoming stiff and back pain.
As we sit at the computer our shoulders are usually forward and we are hunched over for extended periods of time. Our bodies are not designed to sit all day.
After just two weeks of sitting, muscles begin to atrophy and oxygen consumption decreases, making it more difficult to climb stairs and walk the longer distances. Incorrect computer posture habits combined with long-term sitting may cause medical problems such as: cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) or repetitive stress injury (RSI).
It has also been shown that in women bone mass can drop by 1% after a year of sitting for 6 hours a day. Reduce these effects of long term sitting; take breaks; switch things up:
- Stand every 45 minutes to 1 hour (set alarm or timer). Standing up for 1 – 2 minutes every hour will reduce the negative effects of sitting all day.
- March in place for twenty seconds.
- Reach down and try to touch your toes for twenty seconds.
- Maintain intervals of moderate activity during the day.
Exercises / stretches that can be performed at your desk:
Sitting in your chair, lift one leg off the seat.
- extend it out straight, hold for 2 seconds;
- lower your foot – do not touch floor – hold for several seconds.
- Do each leg 10-15 times.
Sitting Weight Shift
- Sit with feet flat on floor, and on hands for support.
- Lean forward through hips bringing nose over knees.
- Now, lean backward through hips.
- Hold each position 7-10 seconds.
- Repeat several times through the day.
Shoulder Blade Squeeze (Adduction)
1. Sit straight and erect.
2. Draw shoulders back, bringing elbows back and inward
3. squeeze shoulder blades).
4. Hold for 6 seconds.
5. Repeat 4-6 times.
Low Back Sitting with Rotation
1. Sit on edge of seat, one hand on opposite knee, other hand on chair.
2. Keep feet parallel.
3. Pull with hand on knee and, if needed, push with hand on chair to rotate trunk to that side.
4. Hold 7-10 seconds.
5. Repeat on other side.
6. Do 2-4 rotations on each side.
Hip Extensors / Rotators
1. Sit back straight, right ankle crossed over left thigh.
2. Grasp bent knee with both hands.
3. Gently rotate left shoulder toward bent knee and begin to pull right knee toward left shoulder.
4. Resist the knee pull by using hip muscles, 7-10 seconds.
5. Maintaining position, relax, then pull knee closer to shoulder.
6. Hold 7-10 seconds.
7. Repeat on other side.
Low Back Stretch
1. Sit in chair with knees spread apart.
2. Bend forward toward the floor.
3. A comfortable should be felt in lower back.
4. Hold 7-10 seconds. Repeat several times.