Get up outta that chair, and your joints will feel better.
Get up outta that chair, and your heart will beat stronger.
Get up outta that chair, and your brain will work faster.

You might have heard that truth before. (Well, maybe not exactly in those words. That’s a song for another day.) But it’s true … getting up off your chair is good for your health.

Medical experts say sitting hurts your body as much as smoking.

  • It’s bad for your brain.
  • It’s bad for your heart.
  • And, it’s bad for your muscles and joints.

According to 2016 survey results published by the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, over 39 percent of us sit more than we stand.

Careers that require workers to sit for hours include, but are not limited to, computer programming, accounting, writing or editorial work, legal and insurance professions, and human resource management. The ratio of walking to sitting starts to balance in customer-service focused professions, such as working at a library or a retail store.

So, if you or someone you care about has an office job, what can you do?

One of the best pieces of advice we can give you is “get up outta that chair.”

Multiple studies show taking breaks for light activity has a positive effect on the risk factors caused by too much sitting.

A 2017 study from Columbia University suggests that just increasing your heart rate for 1 minute every 30 minutes is enough to counteract the harmful effect. Some authors say the magic time between breaks is 19 minutes.

If you don’t want to or can’t stand up every 20 minutes, all is not lost.

Another study says you can reverse the harmful effects of sitting by doubling the recommended amount of exercise you do each day. This means you need between 65 to 70 minutes a day to counteract the harmful effects of sitting for eight hours.

Whether you counteract the harmful effects of sitting several times during the day or you take care of it all at once, there’s one thing the experts agree on – sitting for hours at a time is not good for your health.

Sitting too long takes a toll on your bones, joints, muscles and connective tissues.

Too much time in the seat can cause many long-lasting and painful problems.

You’ve heard the phrase if you don’t use it you lose it? This is especially true of your large muscle groups. Long stretches of sitting can weaken the muscles in your hips, thighs, and buttocks.

Not only does sitting weaken your muscles, but it also shortens your hip flexors. As the hip flexors become tight, they cause pain and limit motion.

Sitting improperly can cause pain in your head, neck, shoulders, and back. When you combine poor posture with a stressful day at the office, the result is often slow movements and restless sleep at home. When you combine stress and sitting for months at a time,  you risk problems in your spine.

Not only does sitting take a real toll on your body, but many people who have desk jobs fight the battle of the bulge. Over time, weight gain affects the health of your back, hip, knees, ankles, and feet. It also puts you at a higher risk for diabetes.

What can you do if you must work at a desk?

First, make sure your desk and chair fit your body, so you are not causing more pain by sitting in the wrong position.

If your job requires sitting, ask your boss if you can set a timer and stand up and move every 30 minutes. During that minute, walk to the restroom or march in front of your desk. Stand when you talk on the phone or when you read a document. The key is to move as often as possible during your day.

If you feel tightness in your hips, shoulders, neck, or back, talk to your primary care provider or request an appointment with a sports medicine specialist at Bone & Joint.