Is your workplace killing you? It’s a possibility. At 8-hours per day, work covers one-third of your life. It contributes to a sedentary lifestyle that is further enhanced at home. Thoughts are rising about how a sedentary lifestyle may be hazardous to your health. Dong something about it is easier said than done. Yet, each day you wait may result in some toxicity that is avoidable. Is standing healthier to fight a sedentary lifestyle? Are you ready to explore this further? The answers may surprise you.
It doesn’t take a lot of sense to figure out that there are several health implications due to more sedentary lifestyles. New studies are demonstrating how lower activity levels impact physiological activity in your body.
Physiology aims to understand the mechanisms of living – how living things work. Human physiology studies how our cells, muscles and organs work together, and how they interact. Changes and greater access to different modes of transportation and mechanics over the past 500 years may have affected human physiological systems. Some say they constitute the basis of new motion diseases and pains over the past few decades.
20th and 21st century technology improvements have radically changed lifestyle choices. More people rely on vehicular transportation than walking. People sit while listening to radio, watch TV, and “work” at their computer. Thankfully, mobile technology is helping take radio, TV, and computing features here and there but more people continue to sit. On the positive side, hand muscles may develop as more people text than speak on those mobile devices.
One recent study of young people, age 2 to 18 and their sedentary ways. Observations that the tested people spend 2–4 hours per day in screen-based behaviors and 5–10 hours per day sedentary. Some say that parents use TV as a form of babysitting. According to an article published by the American Association of Pediatrics, use of tablets is increasing among 6-month to 4-year age groups, sacrificing some other motion-related activities.
A relationship between sedentary behaviour and deleterious health consequences was noted as early as the 17th century by occupational physician Bernadino Ramazzini. Ramazzini catalogued how activity can change the make-up of nerves and muscles and the onsets of certain diseases. He is regarded as the father of occupational medicine by many.
Occupational medicine has become a multidisciplinary approach in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of workplace injuries and illnesses. Researchers in this field offered significant research in keyboard designs and the prevention of repetitive motion diseases affecting hands and forearms. Occupational medicine has explored and developed ergonomic approaches to prevent such diseases in offices and other work places. Some of those ergonomic approaches and recommendations are often not adopted by work areas or easily adapted by individuals.
The ramifications, however, are spreading wider beyond the scope of merely workplaces. Harvard researchers found in a recent February study involving more than 92,000 women that the more time participants spent sitting at work, driving, or watching TV, the greater their risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, or strokes. Basically, “too much sitting can lead to death” so excessive sedentary behaviors may be as threatening as smoking. It can also be addictive. Some believe that sedentarianism is an addictive disorder.
Many workplaces, where people spend approximately one-third of their lives, seemed interested in using work stands over traditional desks. One company, HubSpot, an inbound marketing and sales software company, purchased sit/stand desks that raise and lower with the push of a button for all 650 employees this year after staffers started asking for them. This simplistic and costly suggestion and implementation did not work as thought. Standing may burn more calories than sitting as hearts work harder to circulate blood upward. Standing also puts more strain on our veins, backs, and joints, especially if we’re overweight. This is why more chairs were introduced in workplaces over 100 years ago. Remember Bob Cratchett’s high desk in the Christmas Carol?
Prolonged standing causes health problems too. Plenty of studies show that it may significantly increase the risk of carotid atherosclerosis (a disease of the arteries in your neck) due to the extra load on your circulatory system to move blood to your brain. This may translate to the possibility of a stroke.
A study on economic costs of pain discussed that over 100 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain from muscles and joints. The study found that the annual costs of pain were higher than the 2010 expenditures of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Finding sources of pain and treatments might be beyond most Americans through lack of adequate insurance and knowledge. Highly technological diagnostic tests may be used to pinpoint possible sources. Where there is no specific cause, doctors may provide a diagnosis of fibromyalgia or rheumatism. Fibromyalgia syndrome is a common and chronic muscular disorder characterized by widespread pain, diffuse tenderness, and a number of other symptoms. Rheumatism is often associated with arthritis but a more debilitating form. Both might be associated with sedentary lifestyles but may also result from accidents and other things. The problem is that both fibromyalgia and rheumatism are blanket terms that may consist of hundreds (if not thousands) of possible causes.
Apart from steroid and non-steroid analgesics, acupuncture, or Reiki, physical therapy is most often prescribed as a possible bridge to pain relief. Physical therapy is often called medical exercise and is used for a wide scope of pain and mobility disorders. The efficacy of physical therapy has been questioned and proven as beneficial to some, long-term patient compliance tends to drop dramatically after a few sessions.
Chiropractors often discuss that gravity is a constant stressor to possible back pain and certain postural conditions that are pain associated.
More research is being focused on the effects of sedentary behaviors. If chronic pains and sedentariness prove more positive, exercise therapy may prove positive. Of course, 30 minutes of exercise daily may not reverse the possible negatives of chronically sedentary conditions, it is better than zero. Overall, physical activity lifestyle changes have been examined and recommended as probable mediators that may reduce the effects of many hours and years of being mostly sedentary.
Age, gravity, furniture, and other variables may, through your lifetime, result in agony. You could sit through it or start moving – even walking habitually at a brisk pace for a longer time span each day. It’s easier to say and listen than doing.
It is likely that most healthcare providers will recommend activity and physical therapy. Do your homework. It is strongly advisable to undergo a thorough medical examination prior to beginning a physical activity regimen. Sedentary behaviors may be life threatening but activity may be shocking to your body’s age-old balancing systems called homeostasis or survival through stability. Finding a balance between sedentary and active has been established to help support longer living and less pain.
Pain management specialists are licensed medical doctors that deal with people who have difficulties or pain associated with moving. Clinical research is continually being conducted to help determine which pain management therapies are the most effective in treating back pain and neck pain. There are various diagnostic paths to find the sources that might be ailing you. Pain management specialists are most commonly found in the following disciplines:
•Physiatry (also called Physical medicine and rehabilitation) – MD
•Anesthesiology – MD
•Interventional radiology – MD
•Physical therapy (usually Ph.D.)
The most important consideration in looking for a pain management specialist is to find someone who has the training and experience to help you with your particular pain problem. You must also find one who is willing to interact with you in positive, productive ways. Generally, other pain specialists and therapists may be involved in the course of your treatment. Guess what? Most will be anti-sedentary. That is why you need to create a cooperative relationship with the pain-management specialist who is monitoring your course of treatment. If sedentary lifestyle behaviors are at the root of your problem, they can help (if you feel positive).
One form of activity you can do at your desk is Progressive Exercise and one of the promoters is a company that produces products many professional physical therapists use. Progressive resistance exercise (PRE) is a method of increasing the ability of muscles to generate force. TheraBand is a selection of large rubber bands (generally 3 to 5 feet long each), with varying resistance gradients classed by color. There are groups of exercises that you can do at your desk or on your couch. These devices are available by many online and fitness stores. If you are in a physical therapy treatment, it may be advisable to speak with your therapist about this about whether this might apply to your condition.
Altering your current everyday tasks to increase your physical activity, may be painful if irresponsible. Sitting and moving require attention and perseverance. The acts of movement integration to your living lifestyle require patience and positive attitudes. Are you ready?