Try these lifestyle tips to keep your spine healthy and avoid the negative side effects of sitting for too long.
By now, we all know that the majority of adults who work from a computer sit too much. Even beyond working from a desk, sitting for long periods of time is becoming more common for adults, which is known to negatively impact health across the board.
So, what can you do?
Let’s review some recent findings of how often we’re sitting around the world:
- In the U.S., adults sit for more than seven hours a day.
- In European countries, there is a range of 3.2 to 6.8 hours of daily sitting time.
Another study with 29% of countries from around the world found the average person sits 4.7 hours per day.
- U.S. data showed sitting increased by 2 hours and exercise dropped by a third amongst physically active people due to COVID.
- Back injury is the top cause of a ‘job-related disability’ and it’s estimated to affect 80% of adults.
Next, let’s look at how sitting for too long is negatively impacting our health:
- Muscle breakdown can start in as little as 24 hours, and aches and pains start to creep in.
The risk of dying in people who sit at least eight hours a day with no physical activity is similar to that of smoking and obesity.
- Excess sitting can impact you on a musculoskeletal level, causing joint aches and pains, as well as be a factor in the development of chronic disease.
- It can also negatively impact your brain’s health, as well as your emotional and mental health.
So, what can you do?
The first thing you can do is the opposite of sitting—just stand up! Why? Medical officials suggest breaking up extended periods of sitting with even just one or two minutes of activity can lessen the risks associated with sitting for too long; plus, you burn 0.15 calories (kcal) per minute more standing instead of sitting!
Intentionally standing each day also impacts your:
Standing more can increase your energy and productivity levels, lower your stress and improve your mood.
Standing more can boost your metabolism, tone muscles, and even reduce common aches and pains.
- And can aid in preventing chronic health conditions
Standing more can lower your risk of serious health issues ranging from cancer to early mortality.
Next, Begin to Move More Each Day
Remember, the human body needs movement, but that doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym to get what it needs. In fact, your daily (30-minute) workout only accounts for about 2% of your day!
Here are some top ways to combat, reverse, and even prevent the effects of sitting:
Spine Health Checklist
- Build core strength
- Pay attention to your posture
- Increase functional movement daily
- Make sure you’ve got an ergonomic workstation
- Add micro-movement breaks into your day
- Pick ONE new action item to try
- Use S.M.A.R.T. goals to help you
- Track it!
“I’m not standing on purpose at my desk, so I will begin standing. I will set calendar reminders to remind myself to stand up 3x per day for as long as I can.”
“Currently I’m walking on my lunch break, so I will add standing stretches. I will stand at my desk and stretch 1x a day for 1 week (M-F), log it in Sworkit, then reassess.”
Ways to increase movement each day:
- Try body weight functional exercises each day when you have downtime: squats, lunges, wall push-ups
- Take a mini-desk break to stretch with Sworkit for as little as 2 minutes
- Break up house chores throughout the week so that you move more each day
- Plan active family time to replace electronic time
- Walk to get snacks and water (don’t keep at your desk)
- Use timers to remind yourself to eat, hydrate, stand, and MOVE!
- Try a sport, class, or activity involving your body if you don’t like typical exercise
The most important thing you can do is pay attention to your body telling you when it’s time to get up and move! Perhaps you need to change clothes to go get a workout outside the house; or, it could be as simple as taking a few intentional moments to step away from your desk to assess your neck and back’s stiffness level, then perform stretches until the tension begins to melt.
To help you get started, here are two routines you can try today to support your spine and combat the effects of sitting: