Is Sitting The New Smoking?
Posted on February 11, 2015
“Sitting: The New Smoking” — coined by Dr. David Levine, Mayo Clinic
Does that medical health analogy catch you by surprise? Here is another quote from Dr. David Levine released in an article put out by the Huffington post that sounds even more disturbing: “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.” The detriments reported from medical studies indicate higher risks of obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, muscular disorders, unhealthy lipids, and even depression.
It is certainly no surprise that Americans are sitting for much longer stretches than they ever have in history. Most of us are facing computers or electronic devices a lot of the time that we are seated, and for many, their jobs depend on this. At least, that is how it seems. So, what can we do?
You do have choices; that’s the good news! Although it is best to get up and move around frequently, if you absolutely are “chained to your chair,” try applying some simple isometric T-Tapp strategies throught your day. With feet firmly planted on the ground in front of you and knees bent at a 90 degree angle with your toes pointing straight ahead, learn to occasionally activate your glutes, thighs, legs, feet, and even core muscles while you sit. It’s as easy as pressing your heels into the floor until you feel the muscles in your legs and all the way up your lower body tighten. This, in itself, is working muscles that would otherwise be sedintary for hours at a time. If these muscles are allowed to remain inactive for long enough, they can actually begin to weaken and atrophy over time. A sure sign of lazy muscles is accumulated fat in those areas. And, as the medical article implies, unused muscles are much more likely to become resistant to insulin, resulting in higher blood sugar and possible future diabetes. So, let’s get that blood circulating and glucose burning, shall we?
Maintain what you’ve got going with your lower body and consider this. Keeping your shoulders directly over your hips with the torso upright while seated (no slouching), will also help to burn calories right in your chair! Additionally, it will keep your internal organs from being crowded and squashed. Allowing them the space to function properly is optimal for your overall health. You can actually promote better digestion and elimination just by adding this one little posture trick…not just while you sit, but all of the time you are upright.
Now that you’re feeling the burn in your lower body from your feet using the floor as leverage, and in your upper body from maintaining proper posture, lift only your toes as high as you can, keeping your feet pressing. Now release them. Ahh. Repeating this toe pumping will engage the calf muscles on the outsides of your lower legs and efficiently circulate the trash-removing fluid called lymph back up through the body, so that toxins can be eliminated. It is very important to keep the lymphatic fluid flowing freely and to not allow it to pool in the extremeties, which will cause edema and “cankles.” Not a pretty sight. You can easily implement these health-promoting routines while you are seated for long periods of time at your desk, in a car, or riding in a plane.
If you want to release the tension in your shoulders that has accumulated from the daily stress or from extended periods of gripping your computer mouse, give yourself a few seconds to intermittently relax both hands onto your thighs. Now take a big, sustained breath of air through your nose while hunching your shoulders up towards your earlobes. Next imagine someone gently pushing your lower back forward slightly as your shoulders naturally shift back as you exhale slowly and let the shoulder lower back to a natural position. If you’d like to see and feel a little more action going on right underneath your ribcage, make sure on the exhale to gradually, but intentionally, expel ALL of the air from your lungs until you feel a major tightening in your back, just below your shoulder blade area. This is more than just a nice, relaxing thing to do. Not only is this simple exercise bringing relief to your shoulder muscles and stabilizing your blood pressure, it is also clearing out all of the stale air that is often trapped in the bottom of the lungs. It is a fact that many people have defaulted to being shallow breathers. Now be forewarned: this type of secret activity is known to effectively trim the tummy and torso, as well. A nice side-benefit.
So, next time your office chair calls you, don’t be a victim. Make wise health choices. Once you’ve experienced them for yourself, you’ll be comforted to know that the tangible and often visible health benefits that come from just a few simple seated minutes of mindful T-Tapp movement are capable of not only delivering you from the labeled “seated smoker” category, but also of starting you on your way to a firmer, more fabulous feeling you! And another nice side-benefit–you’ll be tightening and toning your upper and lower body, along with your crucial core muscles, all in the privacy of your own little cubicle or home! Not a bad deal at all, for those who must remain seated.
(If you would like to know more about what you can do to optimize your health, while seated or otherwise, please allow me to help you determine a good place to start. There are several at-home options to choose from, and it is important to tailor your routine to your specific needs. If you are interested in having a customized workout or functional fitness plan designed just for you, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for unique, online personal training options from a certified Master Level T-Tapp Trainer.)