Is Your Chair Your Worst Enemy?

July 2, 2014

We've long known that a sedentary lifestyle can cause many long-term problems. But researchers are now finding that sitting while working also can be more than your body wants to handle.

A Washington Post infographic reports that eight hours of sitting, at work or at home, can create "a chain of problems from head to toe." Along with obvious targets such as the heart and spine, sitting too much can degrade the pancreas, hips, legs, and even the brain.

Because sitting people move less, problems start at the brain, which receives less fresh blood and oxygen. The neck, shoulders, and back all face increased problems from sitting as well; tilting your head to cradle a phone while typing can strain vertabrae and lead to permanent imbalances, according to the infographic.

Meanwhile, improper posture while sitting can all attack the abs, hips, glutes, and legs, including decreased mobility and softer bones. And your lack of motion can spur problems managing insulin and creating natural antioxidants that can help protect against cell-damaging free radicals.

The four experts cited by the Post's infographic offer a variety of activities workers can adopt to sit less or to adopt a more effective posture. Suggestions include sitting on "something wobbly," forcing your core muscles to work more; stretching the hip flexors for three minutes per side daily; walking regularly; standing while working when possible; and adopting yoga poses that improve extension in your back.

Source: "This Graphic Explains All the Health Hazards of Sitting for Too Long," (June 25, 2014)