Sitting is the New Cancer

Every day, I work hard at my job. I sit behind my computer and become so fixated on finishing the tasks on my mental to do list for that day, that sometimes I forget to take a break. It is quite typical of me to work four hours straight at my computer without getting up from my chair. Sometimes, at the end of a busy work day, I have realised that I had forgotten to stop to eat my lunch. I sit there working and my back is paying the price.

Fact is..we are so busy with life that we don’t listen to our bodies anymore. For the past few weeks my back was screaming out for me to make a change but I ignored it and kept on working away. Ignoring the stiffness and the pain. Then all it took was one split second when I went to put a bucket of water down on the ground and BAM! It felt like someone had stabbed me in the lower back with a burning hot knife and I couldn’t move. I spent the following two days in bed, unable to move. The  burning hot sharp stabbing pain shook my entire body every time I attempted to move even an inch.

Once I could finally get up, I walked around ever so tenderly. I literally spent the past few days walking around looking like I had just given birth.

The idea that sitting can be harmful seems ridiculous at first thought. However, we humans spend more time off our feet than ever before and recent studies show that all of this sitting is doing much more harm than anyone had thought.

It’s second nature for us to sit. We sit at work, when travelling, studying, eating, watching TV, or socialising. However, just because it comes so naturally to us, that doesn’t mean sitting is harmless. It’s like eating — necessary, yet harmful if you do too much of it.

So what is the solution?  We have to work and, for many of us, this involves sitting for hours on end behind a computer screen.

Variety is the key.  No matter how tempting it is to keep working. Get up as often as possible, grab some coffee or water, or to just go talk to a coworker. Variety of movement is essential. Your back and body are so much more important than slogging away at your keyboard to finish whatever you are working on. I guess sitting is not the problem exactly. The problem, to be specific, is sitting in the same position for too long and the lack of variety in your body’s position.

During my years working as a massage therapist, the clients I saw the most frequently, were those who worked behind a computer all day. Massage is a wonderful thing. I should have known better and I am angry at myself for allowing my back to get the point it is at. This was not the first time I have strainied it. It has happened three times in the last four years.

Going to the gym would help I’m sure. It certainly wouldn’t hurt. But studies have also shown that doing an intensive one hour workout, does not counteract sitting eight hours straight at work. It is more important to get up and move every hour throughout the day, Other things we can do to ease the back pain are to perhaps park further away from the office, take the stairs more often, go for a fast walk in your lunch break, or frequently  walk to the water cooler to fill up your water bottle. Get up every hour and walk around!

This post has turned into a sort of motivational post to/for myself. I need to make a change. My back is telling me to change and I need to listen. I hope it may also inspire others to make a change too.

Kristen

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