Don’t you hate it when the latest research published shows SITTING, an event many Americans have mastered over the decades, has become an INACTIVITY (as opposed to activity) we must now FEAR!! Yes, prolonged sitting has been added to the list of situations causing EARLY DEATH. I wonder if life insurance policies will need to be modified as a result of these findings. Since suicide is usually a disclaimer in most policies, if the the cause of death relates to “sitting”, will this invalidate the policy? How will forensic scientists determine whether prolonged sitting was performed to compress and reduce an enlarged posterior or purposefully performed to end one’s life? Although I am having a difficult time from smiling as I write this article, prolonged sitting has recently received a great deal of press time.
My concern with this research is the absence of many underlying factors associated with prolonged sitting. If I asked you to guess what the leading cause of death in the world was, what would your answer be? Would it be cancer, heart disease, stroke, etc…? Based on the manner of this “Prolonged Sitting” research, my answer to this question would be LIFE! Every day we live places us one day closer to death, therefore, prolonged living would have to be the greatest cause of death. If this sounds preposterous to you then “prolonged sitting” (in and of itself) should sound just as ridiculous.
I’ll bet I can tell you who would really enjoy this research. LAWYERS!! Can you imagine the law suits filed against employers for wrongful death resulting from prolonged sitting at work? Can you imagine the TV ads? “If your spouse, partner or other family member has died as a result of unrelenting prolonged sitting at work, call attorneys Smith, Smith and Smith to see if you can be compensated for this unfortunate, ruthless act of work related negligence.”
Now that we’ve had some fun, let’s see if I can apply some points to this research to provide a better explanation how prolonged sitting can negatively affect one’s health. I’m not convinced that heart and brain function suffer irreversible damage by compressing one’s hind quarters in and of itself. How then can prolonged sitting be related to an early grave?
Whether the sitting activity involves a computer or telephone or simply involves repetitive activities like filing, people have a tendency to have FOOD (or food like substances) in close proximity. Unhealthy eating in a work environment is a pretty common occurrence. Prolonged sitting may lead to boredom which typically accompanies in between meal snacking. This behavior over time could definitely lead to health complications.
Radiation and high frequency energy are factors that many people are exposed to during prolonged periods of sitting at work. There is a possibility that long time exposure to cell phones, wi-fi, computers, etc… can contribute to damaging bioelectrical effects to the body.
Another possible factor is the effect on lymphatic flow. The lymphatic system is controlled by motion. Unlike our circulatory (blood) system that has a heart to automatically pump blood throughout our bodies, our lymphatic flow (a system in our bodies that helps remove bacteria, viruses and other sources of infection) requires a mechanical approach to circulate properly. This means that activities like walking or running create a mechanical means to keep this system active and working well. It is possible that prolonged sitting would “clog” this flow resulting in a compromise of our immune system.
Poorly seated posture can actually reduce effective respiration leading to decreased oxygen intake. Poor posture reduces diaphragmatic excursion (the ability of the diaphragm to move up and down to its intended limits.) Shallow breathing over a prolonged period can damage the body on a cellular level.
Prolonged sitting at work is commonly followed by prolonged inactivity in the home after a long day. Many of us can relate to sedentary lifestyles which has already proven detrimental to our health.