What is the problem with so much sitting? The problem with so much sitting is that our bodies re not meant for it. For millions of years, we were in constant movement for 10-12 hours a day. Switch that to sitting for 10 hours, and there’s no amount of exercise we can do that can undo the damage. Even if, after our day at the office, we went to the gym for two hours, it wouldn’t negate the damage done by sitting. One study found that we can increase our lifespan by two years by sitting down three hours or less a day. Another study found that each hour spent watching TV after 25 reduces our life expectancy by 22 minutes. We sit everywhere and most of the time we sit on a sofa or chair. While we sit usually our body get following posture: -
|Chair Sitting Pose|
The above sitting posture has following features:
1. Body weight rests on hip and upper femur i.e. thigh bone.
2. Lower spinal cord touches the surface on which we sit.
3. Most of the time spinal cord, neck and head lean in front and not straight as shown in the figure.
4. Foot – leg joint, leg - thigh joint and thigh – hip joint remains at ninety-degree angle.
5. Legs remain straight and perpendicular to earth.
6. Abdominal organs are compressed against each other.
7. Arteries and veins carrying blood are compressed at least at two places where body load is maximum.
When we stand, our body works very differently than when we sit. Sitting for hours a day causes the following damages: -
• Sitting compresses our body, slowing down digesting, leading to cramps, heart burn, constipation and bloating. This can be experienced while we do a car ride.
• Posture gets worse, leading to strained neck, back and shoulders and our entire body degenerates when we sit 10 hours a day.
• Standing requires tensing of the abdominal muscles while sitting leads to weak abs, leading to mobility issues.
• Bones get weaker.
• While we sit on chair heart is to create more pressure or work hard because blood is pumped against the gravity and six times blood flows at right angle from foot to heart. First at the joint between foot and leg, second at knee and third at the joint of thigh and abdomen.
• Brain function slows down when we sit. Because our brain gets less blood and oxygen which results in to mood worsen.
• Because blood flow slows down, we increase risk of heart disease.
• Varicose veins develop.
• Insulin is negatively affected by just one day of sitting 10 hours a day.
• Excessive sitting results in to pedal edema. It is very well experienced by us when we take a long ride in a car and our legs start swelling.
• Sitting increases our risk of cancer, for reasons we’re still speculating about. Perhaps it’s the antioxidant processes that are engaged when we are in movement.
Considering these damages led Dr. James Levine to coin the phrase “Sitting is the New Smoking!” whereas on the other hand, each cigarette reduces our life expectancy by 11 minutes.
Question arises what should be the appropriate and ideal sitting posture to avoid damage or reduce damage up to minimum. Because in modern life we cannot avoid twelve to fourteen hours sitting in a day.
In Indian traditions, the ideal sitting posture is ‘Padmasana’. It is a cross-legged sitting position where both legs are placed on opposite thighs, as shown in the following sketch: -