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On average, how many hours a day do you spend sitting, uninterrupted? One hour? Two hours? Three…or more? It turns out that hitting a Pilates class or three each week, while great for your mobility and muscle tone, may not be enough to counteract those sitting spells!
Our ancestors spent much of their time on the move, hunting and gathering to serve their basic needs. Obviously, the balance between movement and fuel has shifted dramatically over time, most notably since the digital revolution.
Unlike our ancestors, we no longer search for food. Instead, we are now on a quest for time, as hours fly by while we’re hunched over a keyboard. On an average day, many of us are likely sitting more than we are moving and consuming more calories than we are burning. Many of us regularly put in eight-hour workdays seated at a desk – sometimes even more. We then go home and unwind on the couch, binge-watching our favourite shows. The hours begin to add up.
Maybe we make a little time to fit in some movement each day; however, with more conveniences at our fingertips, we can do a lot more while moving a lot less. The longer we sit, the more our bodies begin to feel tight, tired and sore. It’s clear that too much sitting isn’t good for us. But did you know that research is starting to show that sitting really is the new smoking, and skipping that pilates reformer class can have implications beyond simple stiffness?
How too Much Sitting can Lead to Premature Death
That’s right…too much sitting can kill you! In fact, some researchers are saying that “sitting is the new smoking” because its impact seems to be so significant. According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, prolonged sitting (ie sitting too long at a time without standing up) presents similar health risks as smoking, such as heart disease, lung cancer, and diabetes. It also increases the risk of premature death by about 50 percent!
Even more surprising, too much time spent sitting increases your risk for an early death regardless of your fitness level or other lifestyle habits. So while coming to class is an important part of your overall health picture, you may want to start incorporating a few squats or standing pilates moves into your workday.
But sitting for too long isn’t only bad for your heart or metabolism; it is also bad for your brain. Researchers at the University of California have discovered a connection between sedentary behaviour and thinning regions in the brain that are critical to new memory formation.
How Sitting can Cause Pain
At The Movement Boutique’s Pilates classes in Toronto, we see the connection between sitting and chronic pain daily. Sitting can have a huge impact on your alignment, which in turn can lead to aches and pains. How many of us actually sit with correct posture all day? Not many! We all have the tendency to slouch, sit crooked, cross our legs or put our feet up. This can lead to muscular imbalances, tension and worsening misalignment. Many conditions such as headaches, lower back pain and neck pain can be affected by sitting in one slightly crooked position for too long.
So, what if your job requires you to be at a desk, all day, every day? Are you supposed to quit? Well, of course, that’s not practical. However, there are a few simple things you can do to ensure that you keep your body regularly moving for a longer, healthier life.
Getting up and moving even for just a few minutes at regular intervals throughout the day can loosen up your muscles and joints, drastically improve your blood’s circulation and oxygen, and help prevent chronic aches and pains!
Tips to Help You Sit Less & Live Longer
1 – Fit in Exercise Whenever Possible
Bottom line, the more frequently you move your body, the more you reduce your risk of premature death. Adults should get at the very least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. While exercising 10 minutes or more at a time is ideal for burning calories and building strength, shorter but frequent bursts of exercise, such as taking the stairs or doing a few squats or leg raises by your desk, can do wonders for your overall wellness, not to mention your cardiovascular health, lung capacity and keeping your brain fresh and oxygenated.
2 – Do Some Standing Pilates Moves Every 30 Minutes
Research shows that people who sit for less than 30 minutes at a time have the lowest risk of early death. Meetings and deadlines don’t always offer the freedom to move, but ideally, you don’t want to be sitting for any longer than 30 minutes at a time. Setting a timer on your phone can be a helpful reminder to take regular moments for movement, and you can talk to your Pilates instructor about a simple standing legwork routine you can incorporate into your work day.
3 – Use a Fitness Tracker
Fitness trackers are an effective way to ensure you’re getting enough activity in your day. As health and fitness wearables grow in popularity, there is an increasing number of options available for every budget and lifestyle. There are also a wide variety of exercise apps out there to track your progress and monitor your success with motivational milestones to keep you moving.
4 – Try a Standing Desk
As awareness grows about the health concerns associated with chronic and prolonged sitting, more companies have already begun re-examining ways they can improve employee wellness. In some environments, adjustable desks are offered to provide workers with opportunities to stand instead of sitting if they so choose. If a standing desk is not an option for you, try moving your laptop to a tall counter or table as a means to squeeze in more standing.
5 – Opt for Less Convenience
We live in a world of many technological conveniences, and yet, we take so many of them for granted — and in some cases to our detriment. Turn back time and reverse the mortal clock by opting for “less convenient” choices in your day. Walk over and have a conversation with your colleague instead of sending an email. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Bike to work instead of driving. Small active changes can make a significant impact!
Do you spend excessive amounts of time sitting? Do you experience any health problems that you think could be related to a sedentary lifestyle? At The Movement Boutique in Toronto we incorporate pilates, chiropractic, acupuncture and other modalities in a customized approach that can help you achieve full body health and live your best life!
To your good health,
The team at The Movement Boutique
1246 Yonge St, Suite 203
Toronto, Ontario M4T 1W5
About The Movement Boutique in Toronto – Pilates, Chiropractic, Functional Medicine
Located on Yonge Street in Toronto, The Movement Boutique serves the areas of Summerhill, Rosedale and Yorkdale with Pilates classes and much more. Our philosophy is centred on a holistic, multimodal approach to health, grounded in the latest therapeutic techniques and clinical research. Our approach: Optimal health cannot be attained through a single therapeutic lens; injuries are often the result of a constellation of lifestyle issues, including dysfunctional movement patterns, trauma, nutritional deficiencies or destructive habits of mind.