By Sharon Oliver, Contributing Writer
REGION – Prolonged sitting may bring relief to sore, achy feet but it could have a negative impact on our health. Millions of people are sedentary for at least eight hours a day. Between sitting at a desk all day and binge-watching a list of favorite programs, no wonder certain health issues arise. Our bodies were made to move.
Martha Tassinari is the founder of Custom Fit Physical Therapy in Sandwich, where among the many treatment therapies are joint mobilization and muscle energy technique. According to Tassinari, who is also a physical therapist and life coach, many of her patients are looking for a solution to decrease their pain and stiffness, become more mobile and return to an active lifestyle. Less sitting may be part of that solution.
Sitting for long periods of time can lead to a stiffening of the body, poor blood circulation and a risk of injuries. It also places pressure on the buttocks, hips, and spine, which can lead to pain, discomfort, and stiffness. After hours of sitting in front of a computer and staring at a screen, muscle knots can develop and/or you begin to experience stiffness in the neck, chest and shoulders areas. Nevertheless, body stiffness is not the only problem that can occur.
Sustained static positions like sitting, especially in a slouched position, can be bad for the spine. Such posture places pressure on the discs in the lower back. The discs receive their nutrition from the vertebrae when we move around. Sitting in an upright posture for any length of time without back support puts pressure in the lower back’s facet joints, increasing stiffness in the hip flexors.
Muscle atrophy is the loss of skeletal muscle mass caused by immobility, aging, malnutrition, medications, a wide range of injuries or diseases that impact the musculoskeletal or nervous system or by immobility. Muscle atrophy leads to muscle weakness and causes disability. Prolonged periods of sitting can weaken the muscles in your back, core, hips, and legs and lead to muscle imbalances. Having tightly wound muscles in one area while other areas are weak can disrupt the body’s natural alignment.
Burning less calories
Burning calories is the top mission for all who desire to lose weight. Numerous studies have found that sitting for hours increases the risk of being overweight or obese. Even if losing weight is not your present goal, the body needs to expend energy. If not, you can expect weight gain over time.
The heart is like any muscle in that it needs to get a good workout. Movement increases the body’s demand for oxygen. This helps to keep blood circulating through the arteries and tissues and decreases the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Many who are age 65 and older start to naturally experience loss of bone mass. Prolonged sitting reduces the mechanical loading on our bones which can lead to decreased bone density, increasing the chance for fractures and osteoporosis. Weight-bearing activities like standing or walking help stimulate bone growth and density.
Inactivity can decrease blood flow and circulation in the lower body and result in pooling of blood in the legs and lead to a risk of blood clots and swollen ankles.
Medical and physical professionals highly recommend staying active even if it is just walking around every 30 minutes to an hour to avoid any of the above-mentioned health risks. Keep your body moving.