A 2010 Australian study found that for every additional hour participants spent sitting daily over a 7-year period, their overall risk of death increased by 11%. Adults who sat 11 hours or more a day had a 40% increased risk of dying over the next 3 years, compared to those who sat less than 4 hours a day, while controlling for the condition of study health and exercise. attendees.
Researchers from the American Cancer Society found that women who sat for more than 6 hours a day had a 37% increased risk of premature death, compared to women who sat for less than 3 hours. Men had a 17% increased risk (even among those who exercised) while another 2012 study found that if the average American reduced their sitting time to 3 hours a day, the expected of life would increase by 2 years.
Clearly, prolonged sitting is increasingly being recognized as a significant health risk since muscles make up the majority of body mass where there are over 600 muscles in our body and all of them work in synchrony to ensure that we function day to day in comfort and but due to our busy daily schedules and time-limited activities, we tend to neglect maintaining the correct posture and revert to poor sitting or poor posture which, together with the associated stress work, affects the muscles the most. This repeated damage to muscles is known as “repetitive trauma” (RSI).
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr. Amelia Sahana Michael, Pain and Palliative Medicine at Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore, explained, “While RSI damages muscle fibers, lack of sleep in our busy schedules prevents muscles to relax, causing additional discomfort. and pain. A combination of these factors results in constant pain, stiffness, decreased vigor and concentration at work. This common concern and condition, if not addressed by an expert, would lead to chronic myofascial pain. Most would think that physiotherapy and strength training would help tone, strengthen and relieve muscle pain. The opposite is true with RSI.
Dr Siri M Kamath, Senior Consultant Physician and Co-Covid Task Manager at BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital in Bengaluru, explained: “A large majority of office workers in cities work at a desk all day. Staying in the same position for more than eight hours a day and sedentary behavior not only create muscle tension, but can also contribute to long-term health issues, including neck and shoulder pain, obesity, stress, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and the tendency to develop lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
According to the health expert, there are a number of other downsides of prolonged sitting, including:
- Decline in athletic performance
- Sitting for long periods usually involves poor posture. This puts a lot of pressure on the lower back and results in weaker glutes. Weak glutes (gluteal muscles) mean less stability in the hips and less pushing power with the legs. Poor posture shortens and tightens the hip flexors (muscles at the back of the thigh), making the person weaker, less flexible and less mobile.
- Prolonged sitting can also create tension in the neck and shoulders. Our head weighs at least 5 kg, and if someone tilts their head forward, their neck muscles are strained to prevent their head from falling further forward. This puts a strain on the neck and upper back muscles, often for hours at a time. Typing and scrolling the internet and social media with our hands in an outstretched position can create problems in the forearms and wrists.
- Poor body posture affects other areas of our lives, including sports or physical activities that we may engage in. This increases the risk of injury, further compromising the ability to stay active.
- Anxiety and depression – According to an Australian study, employees who reported sitting more than 6 hours a day had higher rates of anxiety and depression than those who sat less than 3 hours a day. Women reported higher levels of psychological distress than men. There are several possible causes for this tendency, including poor health due to inactivity, disturbed sleep due to a lot of screen time, and social isolation.
- Dementia including Alzheimer’s – Studies exploring the relationship between sedentary behavior and cognitive performance have not only shown a link between sitting too long and reduced ability to concentrate, but also an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Dr. Amelia Sahana suggested, “Cardio exercise is a disciplined activity performed to improve blood circulation, health and fitness, while stretching is the only disciplined activity that helps keep our muscles supple and in shape. healthy. Setting aside time for regular stretching exercises, whether at work, at home or in the gym, will benefit you. Take the example of an IT professional – sitting at his desk all day, working on the computer, managing the cell phone, meeting deadlines. The result is neck and shoulder pain as the muscles are tight and tense, lower back pain from poor unsupported sitting positions. Specific stretching exercises, to these muscle groups at regular intervals for a few minutes throughout the day, suppresses this RSI, thereby relaxing the muscle, preventing pain and improving mobility.
She added: “With this year’s winter being the coldest we’ve had in recent memory, tense/stiff muscles are common. Regular stretching will help maintain good flexibility, reduce joint/back pain, maintain good circulation, good posture, improve physical activity, mood and relieve stress. Stretches help at all ages if they are gentle, individualized, and specific to the injury-prone muscle group based on their specific activities. Stretching is the best New Year’s resolution to stay fit and keep going.
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