If you’re anything like me, you spend hours behind a desk looking at a computer screen. I prefer to sit Indian style [cross legged] which leaves me achy from being in the same position for long periods of time. It’s obvious that sitting too long makes you stiff, but did you know it causes serious bodily damage and even death?
Leg pain to higher heart attack rates
Sitting for long periods of time can make you achy, stiff, sore and numb. It can also cause vein damage by further irritating varicose veins [if you have them], or causing thrombosis. Sitting for too long can also cause veinous congestion, which is a buildup of fluid [blood pooling] in the leg veins. This is from the lack of proper blood circulation in lower extremities.
That's bad, but unfortunately there’s more. Sitting all day directly correlates to leg, hip, neck, shoulder and spinal pain, as well as higher heart attack rates. That’s right; an increase in cardiovascular disease mortality resulted in the study Leisure Time Spent Sitting in Relation to Total Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of US Adults.
Anyone who sits too much is susceptible
Both men and women who sat for six or more hours had higher cardiovascular mortality rates than those who sat for three hours or less. Ordinarily, people assume that an exerciser is devoid of damage caused from sitting, but that’s not true. Regular exercisers are still susceptible to bodily pains, as well as cardiovascular disease because “time spent sitting was independently associated with total mortality, regardless of physical activity level.” 
Your body can become accustomed to sitting for hours at a time, but that poses another issue. As your body becomes accustomed to sitting it also becomes unaccustomed to moving. Time spent sitting can affect your body so much that it begins to show in your normal activities. For example, I’m very comfortable sitting Indian style, but it’s definitely not a good idea to sit this way for long periods of time. It is not optimal for anyone to sit this way since it creates hip imbalance which leads to lower body instability, and decreases agility. It also decreases athletic performance, and can increase risk of injuries.
Get up, stand up and move
It’s easy to get in the habit of sitting for hours at your desk, but it’s very important to take short breaks, and not necessarily to exercise. Instead, think in terms of movement. For instance, take a break from work and walk to the mail box, fold and put away laundry, or walk to the water fountain farthest from your office.
Although public health messages promote physical activity the study concludes that, “Public health messages should include both being physically active and reducing time spent sitting.” 
Coach's Thoughts: Any exercise is better than nothing [Editorial]
Easy exercises you can do at the office
Lisa M. White
Copyright ©2011 CPT Lisa M. White™. All rights reserved.