HCA Midwest Health - April 27, 2015
by Lindsey Hill, Certified Nurse Midwife, Specialists in Women’s Care/Overland Park Regional Medical Center

It’s no secret—we are a nation of sitters. From working in front of a computer screen for eight or more hours each day to lounging on the sofa, binge-watching the latest television series, to long car commutes, we are going through life sitting down.

In fact, studies issued by the CDC (centers for disease control and prevention) and the national health and nutrition examination surveys and such institutions as Harvard Medical School have found that a whopping 50 to 70 percent of people spend six or more hours sitting a day and 20 to 35 percent spend four or more hours a day watching television.

An inactive lifestyle can lead to the so-called “sitting disease,” and it’s a health epidemic that leaves us susceptible to shortened lifespans, hormonal changes, an increase in inflammation, and other hazards, including organ damage, foggy brain, neck damage and a greater risk for some types of cancer such as breast and colon, muscle degeneration, and more.

Consider this: life expectancy increases by roughly two years if sitting is reduced to less than three hours a day; and 1.4 years by reducing television time to less than two hours a day.

The solution is simple to get the blood flowing: take a stand. Get moving. Walk the stairs instead of an elevator. Park the car away from the space in front of the grocery store. Exchange a traditional desk for an elevated one where you can work on your feet. Set a timer and stand hourly or even every 30 minutes. Be an example of positive physical momentum for your children, colleagues, and friends.

Here are six health risks commonly associated with sitting too much—and creative ways to take a stand.

Cardiovascular disease

Hoof it. Even 30 minutes a day has benefits—and has proven to lessen chances of dementia, depression, anxiety, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health conditions by at least 40 percent.

Chronic lower back pain

Practice chair yoga five to 15 minutes each day—do a google search for some easy moves.

Carpel tunnel syndrome

Do arm and wrist stretches throughout the day to relieve built-up tension from typing at the keyboard.

Vitamin d deficiency

Get outside and enjoy fresh air and sunshine; eat foods rich in vitamin d.

Neck strain

Hold the phone: instead of using your shoulder, hold your phone in your hand or get an earpiece.

Eye strain

Yes, there is such a thing as eye yoga. Stretch and moisten eyes by looking at tip of your nose, moving eyes in a figure-8 pattern in giant circles, blinking repeatedly to lubricate eyes.

Remember, one of the best ways to keep on top of your health is to schedule regular checkups with your provider, a partner who can help you lead a healthy, happy, and long life.

tags: midwifery , t4b