Sitting Is The New Smoking

You’ve heard it a thousand times: smoking is really bad for you. Why? Because it has been shown to cause serious problems with lung and heart function and with other bodily systems. Healthcare professionals have known for quite some time that this addictive habit is slowly (or rapidly) killing you, and quitting smoking--or never starting--can help you live a happier, healthier life.

Guess what? Sitting may be the new smoking. Yup. It’s that bad.

Seriously speaking, sitting won’t cause cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These are serious disease processes that can have life threatening consequences. But sitting can be harmful, and sitting with poor posture has been shown to have a negative effect on many of your body’s systems.

 Some conditions that have been linked to sitting too much or sitting in poor postural positions include:

  • Diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Back pain

In fact, sitting for longer periods has been shown to have a 50% increase in early death from any cause and a 125% increase in developing cardiovascular disease like a heart attack or chest pain.

Finding ways to sit less and move more--and to sit with proper posture--may be your key to living a happier and healthier life.

The Effect of Sitting on Back Pain

Sitting with poor posture has been shown to have a negative on your back. Sitting slouched places stress on many of your spine’s structures, and this can cause many painful conditions, including: 

  • Herniated or bulging discs
  • Muscle spasms
  • Sciatica
  • Foraminal stenosis

Many of these painful conditions can cause you to lose precious time at work or with family, and they can make simple tasks like sleeping or standing difficult or impossible. Sitting with poor posture is one of the major causes of painful spinal conditions, so working to change your sitting posture is important.

Sitting also can cause decreased lung function, and it may place extra stress on your heart tissue, leading to angina (chest pain) or a heart attack. Making a positive change in your overall health may start with changing your sitting habits.

Changing Your Sitting Habits

So you avoid smoking to maintain a healthy lifestyle. What about sitting? We all sit sometimes, either at work or while relaxing at the end of the day. How do you change your sitting habits?

First, and foremost, make sure you exercise regularly. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that a person exercise at least 30 minutes per day, 5 to 6 days per week. That’s easy to do. Take a break at work and go for a walk, go to the gym, or ride your bike for a half hour after work.

But what about sitting at work? You have to spend time at your desk to get your job done.

When sitting at work, be sure to use an appropriate posture support device, like the Posture PT. This can ensure that your spine is in its anatomical position and your discs and joints are protected from the excessive forces that occur with slouched sitting. Sitting with support can also help your diaphragm--that muscle that helps you breathe--function properly.

If you are having difficulty finding the correct sitting position for you, check in with your doctor or physical therapist who can help find the best ways for you to sit. Your PT can also prescribe an appropriate exercise program for you to engage in to help maintain adequate fitness. 

We all sit, but we all don’t have to sit for long periods, day after day. Sitting--and sitting with poor posture--is the new smoking. It can have negative effects on your health. Modifying your sitting habits may be one step that you can take to help improve our overall quality of life.

Thanks for reading :)

Brendan Ridings
Corrective Exercise Specialist &
Inventor Of The Posture PT

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