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Because You Have “Sitting Disease”

Sitting disease? What is that?

Although it may not be a formal medical diagnosis, millions of Americans are still experiencing this syndrome even before the stay-home orders of last year began. A sedentary lifestyle or “sitting disease” is becoming quite prominent in the USA. Over the past 80 years, the American job force switched from predominantly manual labor jobs towards informational and technology-based careers that involve more and more desk work. In fact, as of 1960, less than 20% of American jobs were considered physically active.

Currently, a sedentary lifestyle is defined as sitting, reclining, and/or lying down for 10+ hours per day outside of when you are asleep. A recent literature review by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that 8% of all non-communicable diseases and causes of death were directly from physical inactivity. Sedentary lifestyles can result in high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and even increase your risk of breast cancer or colon cancer. Despite these dismal trends and findings, you can implement simple strategies to reduce your periods of inactivity during the workday, after work, and on weekends. 

Remember from other blog posts, the CDC continues to recommend exercising at a moderate-intensity for 150 minutes per week (see December 2020 blog for more info). Sadly, only 21% of Americans achieve this physical activity goal and less than 5% of Americans report completing 30 minutes of exercise each day of the week. In 2015, further research discovered that even if a person is exercising as recommended, their sedentary lifestyle can negate the potential health benefits of this physical activity. In other words, we are finding that sitting for most parts of the day counters the effects of brief, continuous exercise. 

Why does this happen? Well, prolonged periods of inactivity result in the body generating inflammatory chemicals and by-products that exercise cannot flush out. These inflammatory markers result in cell damage that can accumulate into several different health conditions as stated above. So, not only must Americans achieve a regular fitness program to stay healthy, but they also must make daily, even hourly, adjustments to their lifestyles to manage their health. Here are some guidelines and tips to help break up a sedentary lifestyle:

  1. 30 for 30 Rule Per the CDC, you should reverse your static position every 30 minutes for a minimum of 30 seconds.
      • So, if you have been sitting for 30 minutes, it is time to stand for at least 30 seconds. 
      • If you have been standing at your sit-to-stand desk for 30 minutes, it is time to walk or sit down for a minimum of 30 seconds
  2. Try an Exercise Ball 
      • Wiggle your hips forward and back or in circular motions to break up static sitting while working. 
      • Bounce up and down for 30 seconds for a quick increase to your heart rate.
  3. Set a Timer – choose a realistic amount of time to sit for so you can accomplish a task successfully (no more than 1 hour, please!). Let your phone or computer remind you to get up, stretch, or walk around for a few minutes once the time is up
  4. Lunchtime Walks – as our weather improves, get outside for a brisk 10-15 minute walk after eating lunch. Studies show that a brief walk after meals helps reduce blood sugar spikes and subsequent development of Type 2 diabetes.
  5. Get Creative!
      • Check out our library of YouTube videos for quick 10 minute workouts for the upper body, lower body, and for balance. 
      • Pull out your old PT exercises and try a few. (If you’ve misplaced your exercises, give us a call! We would be glad to resend the exercises to your email).  

Research shows that consistently moving 20-40 additional minutes per day helps combat the nasty side effects of “sitting disease” in addition to the CDC’s general physical activity guidelines. So, challenge yourself to take 2 activity breaks of 2-3 minutes for every hour that you are stationary while at work. In an 8 hour workday, you’ll achieve 32-48 minutes of extra movement! Stay consistent and continue to chip away at sedentary behaviors that can silently strip us of our health and vitality.