Sitting Increases Risk for Joint Problems, Chronic Diseases
Limited physical activity and looking at screens all day is not good for your health, but Americans are becoming even more sedentary by sitting during work and leisure time.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 27 percent of working Americans work at least part-time from home, but some studies show it may be closer to 50 percent. Sitting all day is causing a national health crisis, but regular movement breaks can enhance both your physical well-being and work efficiency.
Scheduled Movement Breaks Improve Health
How much walking is enough to counteract sitting for most of the day? Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center used the Columbia exercise lab to study 11 healthy middle-aged and older adults who sat in ergonomic chairs for eight hours and then went on regular walking breaks. The individuals were required to engage in a one-minute walk every 30 minutes, a one-minute walk every 60 minutes, a five-minute walk every 30 minutes, a five-minute walk every hour, or no walking at all.
The research team found five minutes of leisurely walking every half hour (as slow as 3 kilometers per hour), can help regulate blood sugar and blood pressure. However, the participants said it was difficult to take such frequent breaks, and only 50 percent were able to adhere to that schedule. Taking breaks every hour to two hours seemed more realistic.
More Movement Equals Better Health
According to the study, taking regular movement and stretching breaks had benefits such as the following:
- Improved mood
- More positive feelings and less negative emotions
- Enhanced energy, with 25 percent reduction in fatigue
- Increased engagement at work
- Better job performance in quantity and quality
“What we know now is that for optimal health, you need to move regularly at work, in addition to a daily exercise routine,” stated study lead author Keith Diaz, assistant professor of behavioral medicine, in a news release. “While that may sound impractical, our findings show that even small amounts of walking spread through the workday can significantly lower your risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses” (Medical Xpress).
Is a Standing Desk a Better Option?
Many people have opted for a standing desk, concluding that at least they are not sitting down. In truth, standing may not be beneficial.
“I’m not sure there’s really solid scientific evidence that standing is really any better than sitting,” Professor Diaz explained in Medical Express. “I worry that people have this false sense that they are healthy because they are using this desk, and maybe they’re not actually that much better.”
Professor Diaz said the most important thing is to incorporate movement into your day.
On a rainy or snowy day when you lack the motivation to leave the sofa, you can incorporate healthy routines into your daily routine.
- Begin your day with stretching. Doing some simple stretches or a few minutes of yoga can keep your joints limber and lubricated.
- Take walking breaks for five minutes every 30 minutes.
- Consider sitting on an exercise ball while you are working on your laptop or watching television.
- If you become lethargic during the workday, drink water or walk around and stretch your legs.
- Eat a nutritious, balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Avoid simple carbohydrates and sugars.
Talk to Your Orthopedist About Reducing Joint Pain
If we continue spending much of our time seated, the World Health Organization predicts that conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart ailments or other metabolic disorders will affect nearly 500 million individuals.
Prioritize your health by adding movement into your daily life. If you want to begin an exercise program, talk to your doctor first. Your orthopedist can help you create a diet and physical activity plan that is right for you. If you have any form of arthritis or have had total knee or total hip replacement surgery, ask your doctor to give you types of exercises that are gentle on your joints.
You don’t need to feel pain when doing your daily activities. Although nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can provide temporary relief, it may be necessary to undergo physical therapy or a procedure to address your specific condition. Call today to make an appointment.