Since first reading the book Sitting Kills, Moving Heals by Joan Vernikos, retired NASA Scientist, I have been inspired to STAND UP! From a postural perspective, sitting keeps our hips and knees in a flexed position. For most of us, this also results in a backward tilted pelvis (posterior pelvic tilt) and a flexed low back. When the low back flexes or rounds, the rest of the spine follows and we get the HUNCH with flexion through the upper back, rounded shoulders and forward head. Manifestations of sustaining this position day after day can occur anywhere in the body, i.e. headaches, neck pain, back pain and (yes!) even foot pain.
Dr. Vernikos studied the physiologic effect of weightlessness in space. To mimic these effects on earth, she studied the effects of bed rest. She says that the next worse thing that we can do is sit for 8 hours a day! Sedentary adults experience similar physiologic decline as astronauts in space and it affects every body system: cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, digestive, neurological, etc. Even if you exercise the recommended amount (150 minutes moderate intensity or 75 minutes vigorous intensity each week), you will not fully overcome these deleterious effects over time.
But what if I told you that you did not need to exercise?
Will this make you happy?
So what is the answer?
And do so frequently throughout the day. Even using the recommendations for Correct Sitting Posture won't help if you sustain that position for 8 hours. It is not how long you sit in total each day, but how long you sit at each stretch. Find any excuse to stand up from that chair. When someone comes in your office to talk: stand up. Place your water bottle across the room so that have to: stand up. Drink lots of water during the day so that you have: stand up (and take a walk)!
Break up your morning, move during lunch, and break up your afternoon with what Dr. Vernikos calls G-Habits: Frequent (all day long), Habitual, Non-Exercise, Movement. Along with standing up, you can also do things like:
- change your posture at your desk (try pelvic tilts in sitting or simply reach overhead)
- heel raises while sitting
- stand on one leg (try putting your socks on while standing)
- try a rocking chair instead of a recliner to watch TV
- walk tall (think book on the head or runway model)
- use the stairs
Back to Extension! The position of standing puts your knees, hips, and low back into extension. A great way to check your standing posture is to place your back against the wall. With your heels slightly away from the wall, can you touch bottom, mid back, and head on the wall? I see the most problem with getting the head on the wall while maintaining the chin in a neutral position. You should be looking across the room rather than up at the ceiling.
This book inspired me to develop the workshop: Work Day Yoga. It consists of over 20 easy movements to do throughout the day. My guess was that you would want to develop some healthy habits in the new year. So here is the schedule:
- January 22 1-2:30 at Dublin Community Recreation Center
- January 29 1-3 at beYoga and Wellness in Upper Arlington
- March 5 4-5:30 at Balancing Owl Yoga in Dublin
(you can find links to these sites under the calendar on the Schedule page of my website)
Please comment if you do other activities throughout the day that keep you moving! We could all use some good ideas.