It seems more and more these days we are hearing about things that are bad for us, harmful to our health, and even killing us. These are things that we previously believed were beneficial or at the very least, harmless.
Now, I’m not going to date myself at all here but I have heard about days gone by where cigarette ads actually touted health benefits to smoking and doctors even smoked in hospitals!
I do, however, remember when trans-fats were said to be healthy and when vitamin E was supposed to prevent nearly every disease known to man.
Looking back now though, we can see how misled and silly some of our beliefs were. But come on…smoking good for you?
As absurd as believing that now seems, what I am about to discuss may at first seem just as absurd but, before you click the close button, consider the fact that tens of thousands of people die prematurely every year from something you are most likely doing RIGHT NOW!
We can’t deny it…we are a nation of sitters. The average American spends over 13 hours per day in the seated position. Whether its driving, eating, working or watching TV, the fact is we spend most of our waking hours on our duffs.
And…its killing us.
Not only does sitting weaken our bones, muscles and joints but, as research continues to confirm, sitting leads to disease and shortens your lifespan – leading to an early death.
The fact is, research has shown dramatic increases in heart disease, vascular disease, cancer, and diabetes JUST FROM SITTING! This means that if you are already prone to developing these diseases with family history, poor diet, high stress, smoking or other risk factors, then adding too much sitting is yet “another nail in the coffin” – YOUR coffin – and, will only help get you to the grave sooner.
Our bodies need rest for sure, but our bodies were made to M-O-V-E and to do it for the majority of our waking day. The challenge becomes overcoming a societal structure that embraces sitting both for work and leisure (as I write that I can’t help but ask myself…how exactly did we get to the point that we define watching TV as a leisure “activity”? I mean, the brain’s activity when zoning out to the boob tube is more suppressed than during deep sleep. Seems like we need to reclassify “leisure activity” maybe).
Our bodies depend on movement for every aspect of physical, mental, and spiritual health. We were created in the image of a God who is ever active – and if you doubt that, take a look outside. Creation moves, baby and WE are no exception!
Yes, there are challenges we must all overcome and some of them can be significant. Often times we even neglect our body, mind and spirit to the point that getting it to move again seems impossible. We use age, weight, poor health, pain, arthritis and even family and work as excuses to not be active. But isn’t it true that family and work are the very reasons we should stay healthy and active?
Every day I see patients who once could barely tie their own shoes turn back the clock on Father Time and regain youthful flexibility and the joys of moving again. And guess what? Their health magically improves, their outlook on life improves, they have more energy, they sleep better, their relationships improve…the list goes on and on.
The truth is – when we move better, we feel better. Life is better.
Now, lest you say at this point “yeah, I sit a lot during the day but at least I exercise a few times each week so I know I’m ok.”
Turns out, even getting an hour of exercise EVERY day doesn’t undo what sitting does.
Read that again.
It’s true. Even exercising every day does NOT undo the damage done by sitting.
The fact is, we need to move more during the day, and we need to do it EVERYDAY.
“But Doc, my job requires that I sit nearly all day and my boss won’t get me a standing desk. I can’t just leave my desk to go for a walk whenever I want to. What am I supposed to do?”
Yes, for some it will be more challenging than for others, but if you implement three simple things into your day, you will be well on your way to undoing some of what all that sitting is doing to you.
Here are three things you can do almost anywhere:
- Avoid sitting right after a meal. Do what you can to stay on your feet and moving for at least 20-30 minutes after you eat. Not only will it help with digestion, but it can actually help reduce your risk of disease.
- Practice deep breathing. Sitting reduces the oxygen levels in our blood and makes stress hormones increase, making our heart work harder. Practice sitting up straight or standing and breathing in through your nose for a count of 4. Be sure to push your stomach out as you take in your breath. Hold that breath for 7 seconds – this will be challenging at first. Then, pressing your tongue to the roof of your mouth slowly release your air for a count of 8. You should make a hissing sound as you do this. (It’s OK…let them look…) This will take practice, but as you do this, you will feel a calming inside you that you rarely feel during the day,3) Perform HealthSource Spinal Hygiene Exercises. Losing the movement in your spine not only causes aches and pains, but it also damages the health of your entire body. Somewhere around 90% of the input to our brains that helps to keep our brain healthy comes from the spinal joints, and sitting almost completely shuts that off. Not only that, but sitting also leads to postural changes in the spine that affect your entire body – both inside and out.
I have attached a PDF with this article for you to download (for FREE) our HealthSource Spinal Hygiene Exercise Guide. The magic bullet is…USE IT!
I know making change is not easy (and the only one that welcomes change is a baby with a wet diaper), but making these few changes to your daily routine can literally add years to your life and life to your years.
My suggestion to making these few simple changes and making them stick are as follows:
- Schedule a short time to be on your feet doing something after you eat. Going for a walk, filing papers, cleaning house, anything counts…just be moving.
- Set a timer on your phone or computer so that every hour you take 5 minutes to perform your breathing and Spinal Hygiene Exercises.
It’s so super simple to get a little more movement in your day to improve your health and wellbeing. If you don’t think that you are worth the effort, perhaps it’s time for you to look one more time at the cross.
Remember, it’s YOUR health – FIGHT FOR IT!
HealthSource Chiropractic & Progressive Rehab & Wellness