Do you have the sitting disease?

“Sitting is the new smoking” – a phrase coined by Dr James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative. In other words he says “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting”. “We are sitting ourselves to death”.

A report published by Public Health England (PHE) tells us that around one in two women and a third of men in England are damaging their health through a lack physical activity; by doing less than 30 minutes activity a week.

Physical inactivity is one of the top 10 causes of disease and disability in England and is responsible for the same number of deaths in the UK as smoking – one in six.

Alarming but avoidable statistics. By introducing some form of regular activity into our lives, adults, including older adults, can benefit in the following ways;

  • Overall health benefits
  • Improves sleep
  • Maintains healthy weight
  • Manages stress
  • Improves quality of life

In turn, this could reduce the chance of;

  • Type II diabetes by 40%
  • Cardiovascular disease by 35%
  • Falls, depression, dementia by 30%
  • Joint and back pain by 25%
  • Cancers (colon and breast) by 20%

There is clear evidence that our health will benefit from 30 minutes or more of moderate activity each week. However, the best benefits from physical activity are achieved with 150 minutes or more of activity every week, this would include regular muscle and bone strengthening activity as these help reduce the risk of falls and frailty and cardiovascular and metabolic conditions like type 2 diabetes.

On top of this there is increasing evidence that although being physically active for a period of time during the week can go a long way to stop the harmful effects of sedentary behaviour, it is really important that we reduce sedentary behaviour throughout our lives. In other words, if we eat well and exercise for an hour each day, but then sit for all or most of the rest of day then we chip away at the benefits of the exercise performed.

Life has become all too convenient for us, with the invention of the car, the TV and then the remote, cordless telephones and computers; milk, bread and newspapers delivered to the door; comfy office desks and chairs and instant messaging save the walk to the office next door.

The typical deskbound office worker has more musculoskeletal injuries than industry and construction workers. Poor sitting posture can cause neck pain, tight chest and shoulders, low back pain, muscle degeneration, pelvic floor dysfunction, to name but a few.

If you are already suffering with any musculoskeletal pains and they are preventing you from being more active then seek the advise of professional Physiotherapists or Sports Massage Therapists, who can help alleviate the pain and prepare you for your healthier and less sedentary way of life.

I’ve been sitting far too long writing this now. I’m off for a stretch and a walk to hide the remote control.

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