Sitting is the New Smoking: How Physical Therapy Combats the Negative Effects of Inactivity
We all know that smoking is bad for your health for a variety of reasons, but did you realize that sitting can be every bit as dangerous to your long-term health? While many office workers strive long and hard to obtain a job that is “better” than damaging your body through strenuous hard labor, desk jobs may actually be worse for your body than being on your feet! Everything from obesity and metabolic syndrome to high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels and even cancer have been linked to an excess of time spent on our rumps. Add in traditional risk factors, and you’ve got a serious problem that is only getting worse in America.
While a daily hour of exercise won’t combat the problem, there are ways that you can help overcome the negative effects of too much sitting on an ongoing basis. Physical therapy has been shown to be highly effective in helping individuals combat some of the key challenges of sitting including organ damage, muscle regeneration, back pain and neck pain. Keep reading to see how physical therapy can help you get moving again and get rid of any ongoing aches and pains caused by a sedentary lifestyle.
While constant sitting is a huge problem for a variety of reasons, physicians have found that short-term changes such as fidgeting in your seat, getting up regularly and taking a brief walk, having a stand-up desk or going to physical therapy on a regular basis can make a big difference in your level of health. Instead of sitting down for yet another meeting, try a walking meeting with colleagues and take a hike around the block when the weather is nice.
Reduced Strength and Mobility from Sitting
Sitting all day can have a serious negative impact on your muscles and bone structure. Your abdominal muscles can easily become flabby from lack of use, and the mobility of your hips and strength of your large muscles such as glutes is impacted as well. Having these larger muscle groups weakened can also reduce your stability and power when jumping or walking — making it tougher to get active even when you want to.
Benefits of Physical Therapy
Physical therapy offers improved mobility and motion, and can help get your body to the pain-free state of movement that encourages physical fitness and can improve your overall quality of life. Mobility is critically important for physical independence as it allows individuals to walk, dance, jog or otherwise exercise to reduce factors that can cause obesity and death. Walking alone has been shown to reduce the chance of hip fracture, knee arthritis, heart attack and stroke.
The Role of Education
The strengthening and stretching movements that are associated with physical therapy can help offset the damage due to lack of use of crucial muscles and joints. Physical therapy can accelerate the stages of healing, reduce the overall pain and inflammation. Physical therapists play a strong part in helping educate individuals about the importance of maintaining proper posture and restoring joint mobility, spine motion and muscular flexibility — even introducing specific exercises that are targeted to solve the challenges that an individual is encountering from pain or reduced mobility.
Sitting for many hours a day can be very dangerous to your body and cause additional aches and pains, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. However, there are ways that you can combat those dangers through brief bursts of activity throughout the day and working with a licensed physical therapist on a regular basis to enhance your strength and mobility.