The most dangerous thing you do all day…
In my practice as a physiotherapist in Toronto, I see a lot of people come through the clinic doors with various aches and pains.
Very few of them are acute injuries, while many of them are overuse or repetitive stress/strain in nature.
While undertaking a clinical history during the assessment, I’ve noticed that for a vast majority of people, the one dangerous (in)activity that they do on a regular basis for prolonged periods of time is sitting.
And most people unknowingly considered this a fairly benign part of their daily life.
As I’ve stated before, this typically starts in the morning at the breakfast table (for those that even have breakfast!), then continues on with the commute to work or school, then the sitting continues until lunch where more of this dangerous sitting business will take place.
Then, after lunch, most people will return to their desks, chairs and various seating apparatus to carry on with the same form of sitting that they completed all morning. At the end of the workday, the seated and sedentary commute home is initiated.
And with the arrival at home, the television is switched on for some well deserved post-work relaxation before supper, which will take place while seated. Post-supper, the same posteriors are plunked back down in those plush couches for some more TV viewing.
Then the same process takes place the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that.
While the above may not apply to everyone, there are a significant number of people who would have no difficulty in seeing their daily routine played out as noted.
I know this happens because these are the same stories I hear in my clinical physiotherapy practice everyday.
Here’s the rub…
This pattern of inactivity which plays out in millions of lives every day has fairly serious health consequences.
I recently came across an editorial press release for the British Journal of Sports Medicine entitled: “Are we facing a new paradigm of inactivity physiology?” that nicely sums up some of these dangers.
In the editorial the authors discuss how recent studies have suggested that long periods of sitting and “whole-body” inactivity (what we term sedentary behaviour) are “strongly associated with obesity, abnormal glucose metabolism, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and cancer, as well as total mortality.”
I don’t know about you, but I definitely feel that those are some pretty serious consequences from the simple act of sitting for too long.
The authors propose their new paradigm which consists of the following four tenets:
1. Sitting and limiting non-exercise activity may independently increase disease risk
2. Sedentary behaviour is a distinct class of behaviour with specific determinants and effects on disease risk, separate from the behaviour of leisure-time exercise.
3. The molecular and physiological responses in the human body of too much sitting are not always the same as the responses that follow a bout of additional physical exercise.
4. People already insufficiently physically active will increase their risk even further by prolonged sitting time.
As the authors conclude, there are actually two behaviours (and their resulting effects) that we need to address:
1. The benefits of regular moderate to vigorous intensity physical exercise
2. The risks of too much sitting and limited non-exercise everyday life activity
So what can you do about it and how can you avoid these serious dangers of sitting for too long?
In the next few blog posts, I’ll work through the above two issues and give you some simple tips and strategies that you can immediately incorporate into your daily life to help stave off these deadly sitting related health issues.
Yours in movement.