Over the last several months, more research has been produced about how sitting for long stretches is bad for our health. Over a year ago, I submitted a column in this very space talking about how sitting can cause mechanical problems such as Upper Cross Syndrome and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. That article can be accessed here.
The more recent publications have not been as focused on the musculoskeletal problems with sitting too much, but rather the effect on our overall quality of life and how our mortality rates are affected by inactivity. A comprehensive report that has recently been released demonstrates the dramatic decline that populations in developed and developing nations have experienced the last 44 years. It is estimated that North Americans are 32% less active now than the previous generations and by 2030, that number will increase to 46%.
Why is this important? How can too much sitting be harmful to us?
Never mind the mechanical pain and dysfunction that is caused by prolonged sitting in front of a computer all day. Those are problems that I see every day in my practice. Sitting has actually been shown to decrease life expectancy by two years. This research can be found here. More importantly than those lost two years however, is the much more substantial loss of high functioning years. Quality of life and independence are so important in later years; being more physically active has proven beyond a doubt to enhance both mental and physical capabilities as we age.
A new report was recently released that advocates increased physical activity but also details effective approaches on a population scale. It is headed up by some very powerful and influential people. This report entitledDesigned to Move can be found here. The old adage of working out three times a week (which most people don’t do anyhow), simply is not nearly enough activity if you are sedentary the rest of time. Being physically active daily, even on a low scale, is being shown to be critical to our health as a society.
Dr. Marc Nimchuk