woman sitting at desk with back pain

Take a seat? Maybe not. A Ft. Lauderdale chiropractor tells how sitting is bad for the body – and for the bones.

If you’re seated as you read this article, get up and move around afterward. Do that a lot. Because sitting for long hours is bad for your body – it’s bad for muscles, bad for your cardiovascular system and may even cause disease such as cancer. Listen to your doctor of chiropractic in Fort Lauderdale when it comes to getting the body moving through constant exercise. It doesn’t have to be intense aerobics – passive walking is enough to help your bones and muscles.

If you’re doubting any of this, consider: An article from The Washington Post discusses the myriad problems associated with prolonged sitting, starting with decreased blood flow and the burning of less fat by muscles, all of which allows fatty acids to clog the heart. Have you ever thought about your pancreas? No? Maybe you should. “The pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that carries glucose to cells for energy. But cells in idle muscles don’t respond as readily to insulin, so the pancreas produces more and more, which can lead to diabetes and other diseases. A 2011 study found a decline in insulin response after just one day of prolonged sitting,” according to the article.

Still not convinced? The article also cites studies that link prolonged sitting to a greater risk of colon, breast and endometrial cancers. “The reason is unclear, but one theory is that excess insulin encourages cell growth. Another is that regular movement boosts natural antioxidants that kill cell-damaging – and potentially cancer-causing – free radicals.”

Other problems associated with sitting for long periods include:

Muscle degeneration: Muscles that go unused take on the texture of egg salad, which ruins posture and exaggerates the spine’s arch – this is amplified when you spend more time slumping in a chair then getting up and moving around. In addition, hips – those muscles that help to keep you balanced – go unused. Decreased hip movement is a main reason for falls by senior citizens.

Bad legs, including poor circulation: Because of the slowed blood circulation occurring from sitting, fluid builds up in the legs, causing swollen ankles to blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Brittle bones: Problems associated with osteoporosis can be traced to a lack of activity. Running and walking act as a trigger that allows lower-body bones to grow denser and stronger.

What about your head? The poor circulation from sitting means no blood is getting to your brain, which means its function begins to slow down.

Your neck also suffers, as well as your shoulders and back. “If most of your sitting occurs at a desk at work, craning your neck forward toward a keyboard or tilting your head to cradle a phone while typing can strain the cervical vertebrae and lead to permanent imbalances,” according to the article. In addition, “The neck doesn’t slouch alone. Slumping forward overextends shoulder and back muscles as well, particularly the trapezius, which connects the neck and shoulders.”

These problems also extend to the back, compromising the soft discs between the vertebrae and forcing them out of balance. People who sit more also face greater risks for herniated lumbar disks – translated this means your body is putting more weight on the bones you use to sit with rather than distributing the weight along the entire spine.

LifeHacker.com breaks the lifespan of your bones and muscles down to time periods – and within each time period, your sitting compromises health in a variety of ways:

After two weeks of sitting for more than six hours a day, muscles begin to atrophy and your maximum oxygen consumption drops. This makes it more difficult to climb stairs and to take walks.

After one year of sitting more than six hours a day, the body begins to experience weight gain and high cholesterol. Women, according to LifeHacker, could lose up to 1 percent of bone mass a year by sitting for more than six hours a day.

Ten to 20 years of sitting more than six hours a day will act to take away about “seven quality adjusted years” from your life span – these are the good years, the years you should be in optimum health, traveling and enjoying your favorite activities. Gone. You also face an increased risk of dying of heart disease. And your risk of prostate or breast cancer increases by 30 percent, according to studies.

So what can you do? Sitting is unavoidable, especially for those who perform work at a desk and computer. Well, there is a right way to sit, as your mother always told you, with your back straight. Try not to lean forward and relax your shoulders and keep your elbows bent at 90-degree angles, with your arms close to your sides. Your feet also should be flat on the floor.

LifeHacker also suggests stretching your hip flexor for about three minutes on each side once a day; walking during the TV commercials and alternating between sitting and standing at your work station. If that’s inconvenient, stand up every 30 minutes and walk.

It’s important to try and stand once every hour and get about a half hour of activity per day.

Want more advice? Need help for your bones and muscles to get yourself back to doing what you love to do? Visit a skilled and expert chiropractor in Ft. Lauderdale for an individualized program that will help you to live every day of your life as well as you can. 

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