So many Americans today spend eight to 10 hours of their day working. While we are fortunate enough to have jobs, we are unfortunate to be participating all day in an activity which is one of the single most independent risk factors for heart attacks: sitting.
In a recent study at the Pennington Biomechanical Research Center in Louisiana, the lifestyles of over 17,000 men and women were analyzed. The research showed that those individuals who sat most of the day were 54% more likely to die from a heart attack.
This study, however, is not the only study that has such conclusive data. Research on sedentary lifestyle due to seated working conditions dates back to 1953, when a study was conducted on bus drivers. The study proved that those who performed the job of a bus driver (seated) were twice more likely to have a heart attack than trolley operators (standing).
The people participating in this study are not categorized into people who live a healthy lifestyle. Some of them were smokers, and some of them were not. Some of them regularly exercised, and some of them did not. This means that sitting at work is an independent risk factor for heart attacks.
If we didn’t think that was bad enough, there several other health issues that are a result of sitting at work all day. These issues are:
- Poor Posture — The fascia in the muscle tissues begins to set when you sit in one position for an extended period of time. When sitting at a desk and leaning over a keyboard for hours at a time, your body retains that posture.
- Causes Weight Gain — It is already known that standing burns 60 more calories per hour than sitting. In addition, while you are seated, your gluteal muscles are deactivated, and gluteal amnesia sets in. This essentially means you are burning fewer calories, which promotes weight gain.
- Causes Lower Back Pain — Weak glutes tend to push the pelvis forward. This consequently puts stress on the spine. It also causes the belly to protrude, therefore making you appear more overweight.
After seeing the effects of a sedentary workplace, the common response is “I have to work, so what am I supposed to do.” Contrary to what many may think, there are several ways to be more active in the workplace. Please be aware, that even though you may become more active at work, exercise still must be a priority and part of a lifestyle. This is activity outside of work. Here are some ways to be more active at the daily grind:
- Take at least two breaks per hour — This can be just to grab a drink at the fountain or to stand up and stretch your legs. If you find yourself forgetting, set a timer.
- Stand during phone calls — Think of how much time you spend on the phone at work. Burn 60 more calories per hour of phone time by standing up on that next conference call, or better yet, pace in your office.
- Replace your office chair — If we spend most of our workday sitting, the best thing to do is to make the most of this sedentary activity. Instead of sitting on an office chair, using little or no core muscles as you type away at your computer, replace that chair with a stability ball. Just sitting on a stability ball helps promote good posture, while activating your core muscles. This will not only minimize lower back pain due to sitting, but it will burn calories while you work.
Debbie is a well-recognized certified personal trainer who has been training clients and teaching group exercise throughout the Midwest for the last eight years. Debbie started her passion for fitness at an early age with a strong interest in dance. After studying ballet and jazz among many other dance forms along with performing nationwide in dance companies, she continued to perform and teach dance and fitness at the University of Iowa. Graduating with a B.A. in communication studies and a minor in dance, Debbie fused her passion for dance with fitness by teaching classes and personal training. She has managed personal trainers at numerous gyms while continuing her passion for helping others. Debbie is certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine with a specialization in functional movement through PTA global. She is also certified in Power Plate vibration platform training. Although she has worked with all ages, physical abilities, and/or limitations, Debbie specializes in helping people move better through functional training. Being a healthy type I diabetic since the age of six, she also specializes in exercise and wellness for diabetics. In addition to personal training, she teaches local ballet and hip-hop dance classes. She is a fitness and wellness author, sharing numerous informative wellness and fitness articles and enjoys sharing her passion of helping people live the healthiest life possible. Her favorite quote that she lives by is “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle