In this blog you will learn what happens to your body when you sit all day, and helpful tips to reduce sitting, in order improve physical, mental health, and longevity. Nowadays people spend prolong hours sitting at the desk, or in front of the screen, or texting on cellphones. Most people spend more than 10 hours a day sitting according to the Journal of Physical Therapy Science . In addition, sitting all day may increase the risk of heart diseases, such as; diabetes high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and excess of body fat around the waist. Sitting too long also may affect posture, quality of movement, and quality of life.

What Happens When You Sit all Day?

Sitting all day produce an imbalance on the body, with postural changes such as:
  • Flattening of the Lower Lumbar Curve.
  • Shortened of the Hip Flexor Muscles.
  • Forward Head Posture.
  • Neck Pain.
  • Lower Back Pain or Discomfort.
  • Lower Leg Discomfort.
  • Swollen Legs.
  • Wrist and hand Discomfort.
  • Increase Mental and Muscle Fatigue.
  • Lower Energy.
  • Reduce Focus and Concentration.
  • Reduce Productivity.
  • Discomfort in the Whole Body (Specially the Lower Back).
  • Discomfort in Hip, Thigh, and Buttock.
  • Knee and Ankle foot Discomfort.
  • Foot Swelling.
  • Neck and Shoulder Discomfort.
  • Increase in Errors in Solving problems.

Can Sitting All Day Cause Back Pain?

The lower back alignment tends to change at 120 minutes of prolonged sitting from normal lumbar curve to a flatten back, producing more stress and tension in the lower back. Recent Studies confirm the association between the time sitting and lower back pain. In other words, the longer a person sits the higher risk of having lower back pain.

Back-Pelvis-Hip Connection

The way a person sit is going to affect the back. Imaging the back with three wheels constantly moving when the hip moves. If the hip moves forward, the back will move to adapt to the body positional changes.

Back and Pelvis-hip Movements While Sitting

If the pelvis tilt anteriorly, the lower back and neck curve increase, and the middle back rounds to maintain trunk stability. If the pelvis tilt posteriorly, the lower back flatten, the upper back gets even more rounded, and the head goes forward, producing a slumped posture. Click here to learn how to prevent posterior pelvic tilting while sitting.

Asymmetric Pelvic Tilt

The pelvis is tilted to the side placing more weight on one side of the body. An asymmetric pelvic tilt is usually seen on people who place their wallets in the side back pockets of their pants.

Reduce Sitting Time Instead Stay Active

What is Physical Activity

Physical Activity is related to the movement of the body to improve health and well-being.

Types of Physical Activity

There are three types of physical activity, cardio or aerobics, strengthening, and stretching.

Cardio or Aerobic Activities

Its related to any activity that increase the heart rate, and the breathing rate.

Strengthening

It makes emphasis on making muscles and bone stronger, such as climbing stairs, jumping rope, and digging in the garden.

Stretching

It makes muscles and body more flexible, less stiff, less tight, and looser. For instance, yoga is a good example of stretching.

Levels of Physical Activity

There are three levels of physical activity:

Light physical activity is related to activities of daily living that do not require too much effort, such as washing dishes, or brushing the teeth. Moderate Activity is related to activities that make the heart and the lungs work harder, such as dancing, and brisk walking. A person who is doing a moderate activity can talk, but not sing. Vigorous Activity is related to activities that make the lungs, heart, and muscles work harder, such as strenuous hiking, or cycling. A person who is doing a vigorous activity only can say few words without taking a break for breath.

How Much Physical Activity Do I Need?

The physical activity depend on the age according to the government recommendations for daily physical activity. Older Adults over 65-year-old should be physical active throughout the day as their physical abilities allow, including balance training for fall prevention. Adults from 19 to 64 year old should do two hours and a half (150 minutes) to 5 hours (300 minutes) of moderate physical activity per week, or one hour and a half (90 minutes) of vigorous physical activity per week, or a combination of both through the week. Adults should include muscle and bone-strengthening activities two or more days a week, to maintain the muscle mass, and bone strength which tend to deteriorate with age. Children and Teenagers from six to 18-year-old should do at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily, that include moderate to vigorous activities that is fun, and age appropriate. Preschool-Age Children from 3 to 5-year-old should have play time several times a day that is fun, and age appropriate. Experiences that are learned in childhood tend to stay with the child into adulthood. The best way of promoting physical activity is for the whole family to participate.

Tips for Reducing Sitting time

Older People

  • Set a reminder to stand up and move every time you are in front of a T.V or Computer.
  • Walk while on the phone.
  • Do daily gentle stretches.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Take a walk break every time you go to the bathroom or for more coffee, or for a snack.

Adults

  • Set a reminder to get up every 25-30 minutes.
  • Walk around while on the phone or brushing your teeth.
  • Take a walk break every time you go to the bathroom or for more coffee.
  • Do Squats while watching TV
  • Skip T.V and do more active tasks.

Teenagers

A resent research states that teenagers are spending more than 7 hours on the cellphone and does not include school work. Teenagers require at least 60 minutes of physical activity for a healthy growth such as:
  • Walking
  • Jumping Rope.
  • Dancing.
  • Climbing Stairs.
  • Tag Games
Keep in Mind: 
  • Limit teenager screen time (cellphone use, video-games, computer use) to less than two hours per day and replace that time for activities that require movement.
  • Parent lead by example by reducing the cellphone, computer and T.V time as well.

Children under 5

Physical activity in children may reduce overweight in children, childhood obesity, and improve attention and brain health. Activities throughout the day
  • Tummy time activities (drawing, playing with blocks)
  • Active play, such as hide and seek.
  • Throwing and catching balls.
  • Jumping
  • Dancing
Keep in Mind:
  • Do not leave the child in a highchair for longer than one hour.
  • Limit children screen time (cellphone use, video-games, computer use) to one hour per day

Tips to Be More Active

  • Take the dog for a walk with the whole family.
  • Walk back and forth while the children are playing outdoors.
  • Replace the coffee or tea break for a short walk or take the coffee on the walk.
  • Climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator
  • Take a break from sitting every 30 minutes and do squats or stretches.
  • Wash the car.
  • Bath the dog.
  • Do yard work.
  • Plant a vegetable garden with the family.
  • Start the day with a morning stretch routine.
  • Dance with the family.
  • Stand while talking on the phone.
  • Family Jumping Jacks
If you are dealing with physical and emotional pain, or you want to be more active and you don’t know how to start, call now to find out how Physical Therapy can help you recover faster, move easier, and effortless:805-203-9940 The information in this blog is for educational and informational purpose only, its content is provided based upon evidence-based medicine, knowledge, and experience as a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT).