Quick, what’s something we all love to do but is giving us a range of health problems including making us all die sooner?
If you said, “sitting”, you’d be right (and you probably also read the article headline).
Sitting, as amazing as it is, is terrible for you. Really just the worst.
How bad? Long periods of sitting increase your chance of back and neck pain as well as major issues like increasing your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
As that one Saturday Night Live sketch likes to ask… what’s up with that?
There are two things going on but both can be blamed on the straight back chair.
As recent as the 19th century, the default mode of sitting for the average person was sitting on a backless stool or on a bench. When that didn’t work, kneeling, crouching, and just plain ol’ sitting on the ground was how it was done. Chairs were reserved for people in leadership positions. That’s why we have words like “chairman” and “university chair”.
The thing is, our bodies aren’t designed for the right-angled back support presented by the average chair. When we sit on a bench or backless chair and when we’re standing, our ab muscles are active because we have to engage our core help our spine support our own body weight. When we sit down, the ab muscles relax and all of the upper body weight becomes supported by the spine. It’s like holding up a pot roast with a chopstick. It’s not a good long term strategy.
The extra stress puts pressure on your spinal discs and that eventually leads to chronic back pain and eventually a permanent case of the grumps.
It’s also terrible for our bodies because it doesn’t require much energy. On average, just a calorie a minute.
There’s a reason you can go on a hike, eat trail mix like it’s going out of style and lose weight while doing the same thing in front of the TV would make you blow up like a balloon.
Our bodies were built for activity. If you sit in front of a computer all day and then the TV some more after you get home, you’re putting no strain on your body whatsoever. And even if you workout, that won’t save you. The prolonged lack of activity plays havoc on your body and, among other things, causes you to gain weight faster.
So what can you do about it? We’ll take a look at the answer in our next article…