People are sitting for longer and longer at work and at play. Population-based research studies are now telling us about the harmful effects all this sitting is having on the human body and our health. The new buzz word headline in media is “Sitting is the New Smoking”. In the 21st century it is estimated that most North Americans sit an average of 12-15 hours a day. Daily commuting, sitting at work, working/playing on computers and smartphones, and watching TV keeps us stationary on our buttocks for more hours than we realize.
The Way We Were
It wasn’t always this way. For centuries people were farmers, blacksmiths and shopkeepers. Job tasks were physical and variable. Children walked to school and played outdoors. Nobody needed fitness trackers like Fitbits to tell them that they had to get moving! Everyone got more than enough physical activity each day. In the 20th century, the shift to urban living, mass manufacturing and the introduction of TV in the 1950’s caused people to become less active, although the vast majority of people still had various tasks which added physical activity to their daily lives. The biggest shift began to occur in the 1980’s. Computerization of office and factory tasks meant that people could get most if not all of their work done while sitting still for their 8-hour shift. The suburbanization of North America was now firmly entrenched, and millions of people drove back and forth to work in long commutes. Home computers, big flat screen TV’s and video games replaced outdoor activities as people became hooked on the amazing technologies that entertained them.
The Way We Are Today
Today we can order our groceries, prepared meals and clothing while sitting at our kitchen table. Using smart phone home monitoring apps, we can adjust the thermostat, shut off the oven and open lights in our house while sitting on our couch. We have nearly eliminated the need to move. It is the best of times for our comforts and the worst of times for our bodies! We humans naturally have arms, legs and thousands of moving parts and we are not using them enough. This is a huge problem and as a chiropractor I see the effects of this in my office each and every day. People are suffering from acute and chronic pain disorders and one of the greatest sources of the problem is the lack of daily body motion.
Your Body is Designed to Move
Machines are designed to move, and our bodies are no different. Machines that are not moved will eventually break down and rust over time. If ignored for too long, these machines will simply stop working. In the 21st century, with all the great advances in technology we use daily, we are ignoring our bodies’ machinery. I have witnessed the increasingly harmful results of this phenomenal change in lifestyle since the 1980’s. Current scientific research verifies my observations. Researchers are calling sitting "the new smoking". Sitting damages our bodies and can lead to pain and disability. As time goes on the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle may lead to chronic illnesses including diabetes and cardiovascular disease and can lead to premature death. It’s pretty sobering stuff and I’ll tell you more about that in my next post. In the meantime, please start moving more today!!