Village Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Shellharbour

Sitting, is it the new smoking?

Our current lives have been altered so that we spend most of it sitting down and being stationary. So are the impacts of this as negative as smoking?

How do you sit at a desk?

 Correct sitting posture

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 3.2 million deaths can be attributed to physical inactivity. Our sedentary lifestyles are responsible for increasing our risk of diabetes and heart disease as well as a loss of muscle and bone strength.

Researchers have claimed that globally, more than 5 million deaths a year are linked to physical inactivity. With a similar number of lives being lost to issues related to smoking. Now this is not specific to sitting, but being physically inactive. In recent research there is a lot of different factor that contribute to the health risks related to inactivity, such as obesity, diet, mental health status and socio-economic status.

On average, we spend about 9.5 hours a day sitting.
If we think of a standard work day, it may sound something like this:
– Eat breakfast while sitting at your dining table or on the run while your sitting in your car, or on public transport.
– We go to work and sit at our desk for 7-10hrs
– Then we sit in our car, or on public transport to get home
– At home we are tired after work so we relax on the couch…. sitting
– And then we sit down while we eat dinner
– Then we are in bed where we lie still for 6-10hrs

The good news is that with a little more physical activity throughout the day, we can lower our risk of morbidity related to inactivity.
Little changes here and there can go a long way in keeping you and your body healthy and happy.

Now what can you do to make a difference:
Let start small: complete exercises at your desk throughout your work day.
Below are 10 exercises you can do at your desk that will keep your body moving and feeling good. (Remember with any of these exercises if you feel any pain, stop the exercises and refer to a health practitioner).

1. Side bending
Sit up tall and drop your right  ear down towards your right shoulder and hold for a few seconds and repeat for the left side.
2. Reach for the roof
Interlace your fingers, turn your palms up and reach up towards the roof, as high as you can. Hold for a few seconds, you can also move your hands gently side to side in this position.
3. Look over your shoulder
Turn your head the left and try to look over your shoulder, while keeping your trunk still and hold for a few seconds … repeat on the right.
4. Head rolls
Drop your chin down towards your chest and GENTLY roll your head from side to side.
5. Shoulder shrugs
Raise both shoulders up towards your ears and hold for a few seconds and release. Repeat a few times.
6. Chest Opener
Interlace your fingers behind your back, sit up tall, and draw your shoulders back. Hold for 5–10 seconds.
7. Seated Toy Soldier
Sit up tall and extend your right arm all the way up towards the roof. Straighten your left leg out and raise it up as you bring your right arm down and try to touch your left foot. Do 8–10 on each side.
8. Knee Hugger
With a bent knee, lift your right leg up and grab it with your arms and pull it in as close to your chest as you can. Hold for 5–10 seconds and repeat on the other side .
9. Reach and Bend
Extend your right arm over your head and reach out as far as you can to the left and gently bend over. Hold for a few seconds and do it the other way.
10. Glute stretch 
This one stretches out your glute (or butt) muscles. With your right ankle on your left knee, gently press against the right knee. Be sure to do it on the other side too.

Try to do all of these at once or spread them throughout your day to make a difference to how you are feeling. Your body will definitely thank you in the short and LONG TERM.

So is sitting the new smoking? Rather than sitting being the new smoking, we need to think of sitting as being involved in the overall physical inactivity problem that our society is facing today.

If you have any issues/ niggles that you need more help with, please feel free to give our friendly reception staff a call to get them sorted, 02 4296 3907.

Amy Kivell