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Big News About Sitting

posted May 15, 2011, 10:53 AM by Al Jacobus

Sitting probably feels like one of the safest things you can imagine.  However, recent research shows that it can be dangerous.

It turns out that mothers were wrong when they told us to sit up straight.  In fact, it’s one of the worst things you can do for your back.  In a recent study, Scottish researchers took MRI scans of volunteers and found that sitting at a 90 degree angle puts enough pressure on your back that it squeezes fluid out of the disks that cushion your vertebrae, after only 10 minutes.  So how should you sit?  Adjust your chair height until your hips are 3 to 4 inches higher than your knees; also, recline so your back is at a 135 degree angle to your thighs.

Even more surprising is recent research that calls into question the whole idea of sitting.  Americans spend more than half their waking hours sitting, primarily watching TV, driving, and working at a desk.  In a large study, researchers tracked 8, 800 men and women for six years.  They found that for every hour of daily TV viewing, risk for death due to cardiovascular disease increased by 18%.  For those watching TV four or more hours daily, risk of dying from this disease was 80% higher than for those who reported watching fewer than two hours per day.  Even more surprising, there are similar results among people who are physically fit!

What can you do?  Here are some suggestions from James Levine, MD, PHD, the director of research in Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis at Mayo Clinic.  What is called for is a major change in lifestyle.

  1. Stand up and walk around every time a TV commercial comes on.
  2. Place exercise equipment near your TV.
  3. Stand up when you answer the phone.
  4. Use a standing desk or a walking desk attached to your a treadmill.  This may sound extreme but many people do this for up to 12 hours a day.
Many more details can be found in Dr Levin’s book Move a Little, Lose a Lot.

Medical Advice Disclaimer

The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

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