About 10 years ago in a seminar, I learned that our human frame was not meant to sit but to only lie down, squat and walk or run. Sitting is the most weight bearing and gravity bearing position for our spine and puts maximal pressure on the lowest vertebra, discs and nerves which can create disc herniations and degeneration. I am very concerned for people who sit at a desk most of the day. This population of people are the ones who complain about chronic low back pain, repetitive stress injuries and fatigue. They also have difficulty losing weight. What makes it worse is that many people on top of the long hours spent sitting in front of the computer have long commutes. I am so fortunate to be in a profession where I am continuously changing position, walking and even squatting. We have a standing workstation at the office for when we do our office notes and reports as well.
The recommendation I have been giving my patients for years has been to try to get up at least every 1/2 hour from sitting. After reading an article written by Dr. Mercola, NASA Discover; Make This Mistake and Not Even Exercise Can Save You on the aging effects of prolonged sitting, I am fine tuning this recommendation. In the article, Dr. Mercola interviews Dr. Joan Vernikos, who is the author of, Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, and former director of the Life Science Division of NASA. He explains how “sitting in and of itself is an independent risk factor for poor health and premature death- even if you exercise regularly.” In her book Dr. Vernikos recommends standing up from a seated position every 20 minutes and making this a habit at least 35 times per day. This is based on double blinded research studies performed on astronauts at NASA. Dr. Mercola took this a step further and recommends going from a squat to a stand or even adding in a jump to maximally challenge gravity. It is the change in posture and a persons interaction with gravity that can counteract the detrimental effects of sitting for prolonged periods. Also, by going from sitting to a standing position you help to burn fat by stimulating the production of lipoprotein lipase. In summary, it is the continual gravity on a seated body that promotes weight gain, detrimental skeletal changes, and biological aging. As Dr. Vernikos simply says, “the key point is to move and shift positions often, when you are sitting down. Meaning, you want to interrupt sitting as much as possible”. Our lifestyle dictates our vitality and longevity. We need to have regular aerobic activity, strength training (yoga, Pilates, or weights), eat healthy, get our spines checked regularly for subluxations and defy gravity.
Dr. Mercola MD
Dr. Joan Vernikos: Sitting Kills, Moving Heals