Expert advice about taking a stand on sitting down
SITTING DOWN FOR MOST OF THE DAY IS THE NEW NORM – BUT IT’S NOT GOOD FOR US. WE SPEAK TO THE EXPERTS ABOUT HOW TO COUNTERACT THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS
It’s official: sitting for too long is bad for your health. While taking time to relax is not a bad thing, lives increasingly lived in front of screens and devices, combined with Kiwis’ heavy reliance on cars, is creating concerns about the long-term effects of sedentary lifestyles.
And although the likes of the Ministry of Health’s ‘Sit Less Move More’ initiative encourages us to stand more throughout the day and weave movement into our daily lives, it can be easier said than done.
Which is why we have consulted the experts to find out if there are any easy ways to combat the issue.
Move those muscles
You might ask how harmful the simple act of being regularly seated is. The main concern is that because a chair supports the body, your muscles don’t need to do very much when you’re sitting down. And because the muscles are inactive, they aren’t using any fuel, so sugars remain in the bloodstream longer, which increases the risk of type-2 diabetes.
We burn fewer kilojoules sitting than standing, and so key fat-burning enzymes in the body also start to become inactive, potentially increasing the risk of weight gain.
According to exercise physiologist Jennifer Smallridge, another health risk is aches and pains.
“Blood flow to muscles reduces when you sit for a long period, and your muscles also start to change in length, which in time can cause pain and postural problems,” she explains.
Happily, there are solutions that don’t involve major lifestyle changes.
The key is to try to engage your muscles as often as you can throughout the day, by changing when, where and how you sit. Experts call this ‘active sitting’ and say it’s something we should all begin to adopt.