Have you heard that sitting is the new smoking?
As much as I agree that too much sitting is harmful to the body, sitting cannot be compared to smoking, my friends!
That is because the body is designed and needs to sit (not necessarily on a chair) but it doesn’t need cigarettes!
Can you imagine if we would stop sitting!? Mmm, not a good idea…
But surely you can imagine not touching a cigarette in your life and I hope you won’t.
Let’s compare sitting to sugar: is sugar a problem, doesn’t the body need sugar to survive?
Sugar becomes a problem, only when we consume too much of it for a long period of time. No difference when it comes to sitting.
Maybe we could say that ‘sitting is new diabetes‘? What do you think?
It is a fact that we are now doing more sitting than ever before but the problem isn’t in the sitting itself.
The problem is in the amount of time we spend sitting statically. That together with awkward positions and the lack of movement is what puts the spine at risk.
Now, how do we tackle this sitting problem?
Well, the solution isn’t to stop sitting because we need to sit, neither is to buy a ‘special’ chair or standing all day long.
The solution is doing a variety of sittings, standing and moving.
This is what the human body is designed for.
Therefore, it is key that you understand how your body is designed to function so that you can stay away from pain and discomfort.
What about ergonomic chairs and standing tables, can they help?
To a certain extent but don’t fool yourself.
If you have no understanding of how your body is designed to work and all you do, oblivious, is to use it in ways that causes strain ie poor postural habits, then there will be no chair (or table) in the world that will help with your aches and pains or sit better for that matter.
Conversely, if you know how to move, sit and stand with good posture ie. in ways that don’t cause you strain, then any old chair will do.
In an office setting, people go from sitting at the desk to sitting in a meeting room, to sitting in the coffee area, to sitting for lunch, back to sitting at the desk, then sit in the bus/tube/car home, to sit in front of the TV. Then at the table for dinner then to lie in bed, day in day out.
The body is designed to move (organically) regularly and if it doesn’t it will complain in the form of aches and pains.
So, if you work in an office or sit for long hours you need to stand up, stretch and move a good few minutes, every 20 or so minutes. You can also move while you are sitting – watch my videos on youtube (Posture Queen).
Something that would help, is to have a couple of different chairs that allow you to change sitting position every so often during the day as well as a standing desk.
There is also a lot of other things you can do, as you go about life, to help yourself.
Eg. walk more, use the stairs instead of the lift. Escalators, don’t just stand there, nothing stops you from moving up/down – your body craves for these organic movements, hence the aches and pains.
Moreover, these (organic) movements cannot be replaced by gym work.
It is believed that going to the gym does not compensate for the number of hours you spend inactive during the day.
Think of movement as food for the body and brain, you need to keep feeding it regularly – and it doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym.
You can help yourself, it’s your body and your responsibility.
Do you always need to sit down in meetings (or the whole time), do you really need to sit down when you go for a coffee break, do you really need to take the lift to go 1, 2 or 3 floors down/up, do you really need to stay still on a escalator?
Create opportunities to move, there are so many around you!
There is so much you can do for yourself during the day to stay away from aches & pains – follow my posts for ideas and inspiration.
There is, however another side to this: office culture needs to change too to accommodate the need for movement. I explain that on this blog post ‘Please (don’t) take a seat’
I come to offices and schools with a posture training session where I teach how the body is designed to function and how you can prevent and manage back problems. I also teach how you can help your children to cultivate good postural habits without mentioning the word posture or saying things like ‘sit up straight’.
Keep moving, your body will thank you.
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