A Body in Motion

A body at rest wants to stay at rest. A body in motion wants to stay in motion. I heard this from a neurologist this week. It’s obvious, right? However, we really don’t seem to get it. Me included.

Recently I drove back from the beach, a 3-hour drive. Not bad. Three hours. Three hours! After a weekend, mind you, of lounging around, enjoying friends, and enjoying 80-degree weather in February. Still I woke up the next day with a sore back. Gone are the days when we had to actually do something to hurt the next day. Something strenuous, something exhausting. Now, we just have to sit for a few hours to be sore. Better yet, sleep for eight hours and wake up the next day with a neck that’s out of whack. Or a sore hip. Or an uncomfortable shoulder.

We hear a lot about how sitting is killing us. Being still is killing us. I thought about my parents. They were probably the first generation of people that had jobs where they sat at a desk for hours. Even my generation (I just turned 47 and it still shocks me when I see it in print) continued to work at desks instead of doing a lot of physical exertion. We are a generation of sitters! Now we’re seeing the effects.

When we sit, what all is involved? That’s the problem, not much. Our problem is that our spines are meant to stand and support. Curvature from sitting for long periods isn’t really conducive to a happy spine. And our muscles are equally displeased with the sitting aspect. Sitting all day means our muscles tighten and shorten. The result is soreness when we stand up and the tightness will pull the other muscles out of alignment (hamstrings, quadratus labrum, etc.). Remember, it’s all connected together.

Long periods of sitting can be associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and a host of other life changing issues. Even doing some exercising before work or after work might not be enough according to a recent study in recent study in Diabetologia In another study done by the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity , breaking up your day of sitting every ½ hour is recommended. Wait a minute. For every half hour we sit, we’re supposed to get up and get moving? Who has the time? However, it’s important because this can prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue associated with sedentary periods. To break up your sitting times, the recommendation is for every 30 minutes you sit, stand up and stretch for five. The act of standing is shown to prevent tissue death. I know this seems impossible in your work environment, but you’re going to have to find some way to break up the monotony of being glued to your seat during the day. Stand in place. You don’t even have to venture very far from your computer. And if you all you ‘standers’ out there are feeling smug, well you have your own issues and we will tackle those next time.

The bottom line is, don’t be sedentary. Move! A body that stays in motion is a body that is alive!