Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday Topics- Sitting v. Standing

Wow! Is it really already Tuesday?!  Well I have been holding on to this article for several weeks now and have been really wanting to chat on this topic for a while.

Are you sitting right now, reading this blog? I'm sitting as a type.  And as I sit the natural S curve in my spine has been reduced to a C.  When you sit, the lower lumbar curve in your spine collapses, hampering the muscles in your back and abs, the muscles that help support your body.  It is next to impossible not to slouch while sitting, despite your parent's best attempts to make you sit up straight, and all that slouching leads to decreased muscle strength which further hampers them to support your body.

Furthermore, sitting versus standing puts all your weight on your pelvis and spine, increasing the pressure on your lower back discs...back ache anyone?  Instead, standing delivers the weight to your feet, knees, hips and ankles.  So "take a load off" actually tacks on the weight and leaves you feeling sluggish, tired, achy, and maybe even numb. 

The consequences to sitting cannot be countered by increased exercise either, studies show.  Sitting too much is not the same as exercising too little.  They do completely different things to the body, according to the article "Your Office Chair is Killing You" linked above. 

I used to work at the YMCA in which we stood behind desks all day long.  Those 8 hour days used to drag on and on.  We complained about our aching feet, tired backs and I always felt so worn out at the end of the day.  So reading this article came as a surprise to me, that sitting was that terrible for the body.  Certainly we know the dangers of an inactive lifestyle and how those who sit all day can become overweight more easily than others.  But I didn't know the risks of cholesterol, hypertension and back pain were connected to sitting.

In contrast, I researched risks of standing all day and found these:
  • swollen or painful feet or legs;
  • bunions;
  • plantar fasciitis (inflamed connective tissue that goes from heel to toe, supporting the arch);
  • stretched Achilles tendon (tendinitis);
  • varicose veins;
  • knee problems;
  • low back pain;
  • neck and shoulder stiffness;
  • poor posture (and its effects);
  • restricted blood flow;
  • increased chance of knee or hip arthritis; and
  • muscle soreness and fatigue.
I am sure I could research all day long and continue to discover countless convincing arguments on either side.  But perhaps the best answer is everything in moderation.  My friend is considering this as a solution:
This height-adjustable work desk can easily be moved up and down to change your position during the day.  Sit some, stand some.  "Take a load off" when you need to!

Sound off: standing v. sitting, what do you prefer and why?

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