Is Sitting Really the New Smoking?

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

​Is sitting really the new smoking?

In recent years, research has shown that the more time you spend sitting, the shorter and less healthy your life will be. Recent studies have shown that those who sit more are more likely to have chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease, and higher cholesterol. Researchers at Northwestern University found each additional hour spent sitting increased risk of physical disability by nearly half.

What’s even more concerning is that studies show that even if you exercise, it's not enough to counteract the negative effects of prolonged sitting. So, what is the solution? GET VERTICAL! and MOVE MORE!


If you have a sitting job, I recommend standing every 20-30 minutes. I know that may seem impossible, and you may be thinking "How will I get anything done?". Research indicates that it is PROLONGED STILLNESS that creates more consequences from sitting. Frequently changing positions is the proven remedy for a healthy workstation. Even if you do not leave your work area, stand, stretch, squat, take steps in place for 20-30 seconds. Set a timer on your phone or fit bit to remind you to stand!


It's difficult to maintain proper posture while we are sitting and most of us spend more time "slumping" and leaning forward that we do sitting upright. For every inch the head juts forward, you are placing an additional 10 lbs. of stress on the joints of the spine and muscles. During posture evaluations, chiropractors regularly observe many of their patients carrying their head two to three inches forward, which is an extra 20-30 pounds of pressure on their neck. Proper posture is lining the center of the ear up with the center of the shoulder. Try improving your sitting posture by placing your lower back firmly against the back of the chair and using a lumbar support, and holding your head upright, chin level, and chest high.


Creating a healthier workstation with standing desks is becoming increasingly popular and for good reason. I recommend an adjustable workstation versus a stand only workstation. Standing for 6-8 hours a day comes with it's own set of disadvantages. Standing for prolonged periods puts too much stress on our joints and you're still inactive. Adjustable workstations allow you to alter your position from sitting to standing. I recommend standing for 1 hour to 90 minutes, then sitting for 1 hour to 90 minutes. Constantly changing positions and avoiding staying in one position for too long seems to be the best remedy to counteract the negative effects of sitting. Wearing supportive footwear and standing on a fatigue mat is also helpful while you are standing.


Sitting weakens our posterior chain core muscles (lower back, gluts, hamstrings, and postural muscles). Each time you stand throughout the day, perform a strengthening core exercise. ​Prolonged sitting also leads to repetitive strains and poor movement patterns. Poor movement patterns lead to low back pain, hip pain, headaches, migraines, neck pain, and shoulder pain. Sitting puts more stress on the joints of the spine, discs, and muscles than any other position. We weren't meant to sit as much as we do. The core strengthening protocol that I use in my office is Foundation Training. It is a series of exercises designed to change destructive movement patterns and build a powerful posterior chain which begins with a strong low back. Foundation Training is based on simple, but unique idea that strengthening the upper back, lower back, gluts, hamstrings, and inner thighs allows the strong muscles in the back to do their job of supporting the weight of the upper body and maintaining upright posture. Take a look at one of my latest blog posts the 3 Best Exercises for Back Pain that feature Foundation Training.


Many of our patients with sitting jobs get regular chiropractic care to prevent repetitive strains and pain syndromes, help maintain a better posture, and feel more flexible and mobile. Chiropractors are movement specialist and focus on identifying your mechanical restrictions and restoring proper body mechanics. The first step is to assist my patients on how to remove the stress they are placing on their bodies. Addressing sitting posture, the height of the chair, monitor, and keyboard, and avoiding long periods of stillness is the key. Chiropractic adjustments lead to better overall health of your body and mind. Patients often experience increase in energy levels, better sleep, less muscle tension, and even better mental clarity. ​


We know that drinking adequate amounts of water is an important part of maintaining good health, but it also ensures that we leave our workstations more often as it increases restroom visits. Dehydration can cause many health concerns including muscle and joint pain, fatigue, headaches, constipation, and even weight gain. It is recommended that we drink half of our body weight in ounces of water. If you weigh 150 lbs., you need 75 ounces of water per day. And if you exercise, you need more. Always drink pure, filtered water as it is free of potential contaminants found in tap water. A good way to see if you are getting enough water is to look at the color of your urine. In most cases you want to drink enough water to turn your urine a pale yellow. Frequency of urination can also be used to judge your intake. If you haven't urinated in several hours, you could be dehydrated.

About Dr. Angela...

Dr. Angela is a wellness physician specializing in women's health, advanced nutrition, hormone management, and essential oils. Through 20 years of private practice, I have become very passionate about empowering others to transform their lives through natural health and wellness.

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