The health risks of leading a too sedentary life.
For many Americans, sitting is part of our job. Yet it can have some serious consequences for your health.
Being too sedentary and sitting can raise your risk of uterine, colon, and breast cancers. Lack of exercise and a sedentary life doubles your risk of cardiovascular disease and death, according to the World Health Organization.
Sitting too long can have a real impact on your musculoskeletal health. When you sit too much, the core muscles that support your back begin to weaken. When the muscles are weak, you're more likely to experience strained muscles and muscle spasms. Muscle imbalances due to lack of exercise can pull your spine out of alignment, causing chronic back pain and reduced range of motion.
“Having a balance between movement and rest throughout your day is important. If you’re sitting a lot, especially on a soft surface like a couch or in a car, you’ll sometimes want to support your back with a small pillow or specific lumbar support,” said Dr. Kristin Kolesar Fabris, president of the Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island and a chiropractor at Be Well Chiropractic in Providence, Rhode Island.
In terms of how to sit in a way that will minimize the impact to your back, particularly at a desk, the American Chiropractic Association offers the following guidelines: Don’t cross your legs. Your ankles should be directly in front of your knees; keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat; your knees should be at or below the level of your hips; adjust the backrest of your chair to support your low- and mid-back or use a back support; relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground; and avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time and take breaks and move your body.
Sitting less and being more active may also help you avoid depression and anxiety or reduce the symptoms of these conditions. According to Harvard Health Publishing, exercise improves nerve cell growth in the part of the brain that controls moods and triggers the release of endorphins, natural chemicals that improve your mood.
“If you sit a lot for work, maintaining a proper ergonomic workspace is important. You can visit a special website created by CSRI entitled StraughtenUpRI.com for more tips,” said Dr. Fabris. “You’ll also want to get adjusted regularly by your chiropractor to maintain proper spinal health.”
If you not currently seeing a chiropractor and want to explore how chiropractic can help, you can utilize the “Find A Doctor” feature that you can find at the bottom of this page.