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Unsettling effects of sitting and what to do about it

You probably have heard the expression that sitting is the new smoking. While that might sound harsh, prolonged sitting and other byproducts of a sedentary lifestyle can include cardiovascular disease, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and more. Some studies even suggest that extended periods of sitting can be linked with a higher risk of many forms of cancer.

“With such serious ramifications as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, you can see why it’s being referred to the new smoking,” said Dr. David Dwyer, president of Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island and a chiropractic physician at Tollgate Chiropractic in Warwick and Wakefield, Rhode Island. “Beyond that, prolonged sitting is very unhealthy for your spine and it is important to develop a strategy that negates these negative impacts.”

 If you work at a desk, Dr. Dwyer recommends standing at least every 90 minutes, preferably once per hour and do a brief movement/stretching routine. Simple movements of the spine in all planes, a few squats and a hamstring stretch will go a long way to help. Take a short walk during your break, even if it’s a stroll to the lunch room/cafeteria to eat your lunch rather than doing so at your desk.

Dr. Dwyer also advises desk workers to get in a 30-minute walk per day, before work, at lunch or after work. For those with Fitbits, make 10,000 steps per day. 

“You can also use a simple foam roll to ease the tension after a long day of sitting,” said Dr. Dwyer. “Simply lay down on the floor with a foam roll at your calves and move your body to bring the roll up to your hips. Repeat this a few times and then do the same for the other side of your legs as well. Five to 10 minutes of this per day is great for the circulation.” 

Beyond exercise, Dr. Dwyer recommends making adjustments in your work habits as well.

“An ergonomic chair that put you at eye level with your computer screen is a great start. Standing desks have also become popular in many offices as a way to minimize the impacts being in a chair all day,” said Dr. Dwyer. “If you do have a job that requires you to be seated for extended amounts of time, seeing a chiropractor for periodic adjustments can do wonders for preventing flare-ups of your back and neck.” 

To find a chiropractor in Rhode Island, you can go to www.richiro.org.

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