By Brian Morrison, DC
Don’t just sit there! “Sitting is the new smoking,” wrote Dr. James Levine in his book, Get Up!: Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About It. In an L.A. Times interview, he proclaims: “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.”
I am frequently asked by patients which chair I recommend for their office or cubical. My reply? “The one you get out of!”
Thus began the era of the standing desk. Was that really the simple solution, the antidote to sedentarianism? According to a report featured on NPR last spring, not really. “An analysis of 20 studies failed to find good evidence that standing at a work desk is better than sitting.” A researcher quoted in the NPR report stated, "What we actually found is that most of it is, very much, just fashionable and not proven good for your health."
Darn. My staff just convinced me that they absolutely HAD to have standing desks or they would die 1000 deaths. I gave in. The report went on: "I would say that there's evidence that standing can be bad for your health." A 2005 study in Denmark showed prolonged standing at work led to a higher hospitalization risk for enlarged veins.
It’s not sitting or standing that are necessarily good or bad, it is our lack of movement and exercise that’s doing us in. The American College of Sports Medicine has a very ambitious program called “Exercise is Medicine” that seeks to educate physicians and bring personal trainers, athletic trainers, exercise scientists, kinesiologists and others into the realm of medicine and health care. Turns out, exercise along with smart dietary choices are probably the most positive changes you can make to benefit your health. Regular exercise prevents, ameliorate or even reverses the effects of many degenerative conditions and diseases. Often medication can be reduced or eliminated.
Exercise has been shown to improve your general physical preparedness (G.P.P.). Simply put, regular exercise can maintain or even increase your capacity to perform activities without sustaining injury. As we become sedentary and “age in place,” we lose our capacity to do things. Every summer I see patients who return from their European vacations, having walked the streets of Rome, ascended the steps to the Acropolis or toured the castles of the British Isles with all kinds of “over use” syndromes of their musculoskeletal system. Name an “–itis” – bursitis, tendinitis, fasciitis, myofascitis – and they have it. Many have spent 8-10 hours of the 250 work days a year at a desk then commute an hour home to slump into the couch and watch TV for the evening. That’s how you lose your GPP. People expect their body to behave as it did when they were 25. On vacation they may walk 20,000 steps in a day, lug suitcases and climb stairs. Something has to give….
Beyond GPP, exercise also has remarkable benefits for just about every ailment.
The American College of Sports Medicine tells us that regular physical activity:
Ok, so how do I start? As Nike says, “Just Do It”. Actually brisk walking up to 40 minutes 3-4 times per week is a good goal. If you can only do 10 minutes, don’t sweat it. Start there. Measure how far you can go in 10 minutes. Try to go farther in the same amount of time after you feel comfortable. After that, you can start adding a minute here and there until you reach 40 minutes 4x/week. I highly recommend seeking out a personal trainer, chiropractor or PT who understands any health issues you might have and work with them one on one in a comfortable environment to develop a program and accountability system that works for you. The jury is out about what exercises are best, but you need to break a sweat and feel your breathing rate increase. One of my mentors stated that the best exercise is the one that you’ll do, so find something that attracts your interest and start there.
Prolonged sitting or standing, both can rob us from our health and vitality. Time to move into the new year!
About the Author: Brian Morrison, DC
Dr. Brian Morrison, clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the Department of Family & Community Medicine and Director of Chiropractic Services at the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Health and Healing, is a licensed chiropractor with over 27 years of experience in private practice. Dr. Morrison realized early in his career that manipulation and manual therapy were healing arts spanning many disciplines. In addition to chiropractic, he studied the manipulative techniques of osteopathy, orthopedic manual therapy, and various methods of rehabilitation. His practice offers a variety of techniques that feature state of the art manual theray combined with corrective rehabilitation. He believes providing both pain education and correction of biomechanical dysfunctions can reduce or eliminate pain and restore comfortable, healthy, efficient movement. He recently co-authored a chapter on Integrative Management of Pain in Practical Management of Pain, 5th Ed. H. Benzon Ed. In 2005, the Maryland Chiropractic Association honored him as “Chiropractor of the Year” for his role in creating collegial relationships between the chiropractic and medical communities in Maryland. Dr. Brian Morrison earned his B.S. in biology at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He attended Logan College of Chiropractic in Chesterfield, MO where he graduated magna cum laude, valedictorian from. He went on to complete a residency in Chiropractic Family Practice at Lindell Hospital in affiliation with Barnes and Jewish Hospitals in St. Louis, MO. Dr. Morrison is a featured presenter for the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Health and Healing’s Annual Wellness Conference, Maryland Chiropractic Association, Maryland Massage Therapy Association, DC Dental Society and the Howard County Dental Hygiene Association. He is a member of the Columbia Association Medical Advisory Board.
Dr. Morrison sees patients at the Center for Integrative Health & Healing, the clinical practice of the University of Maryland School of Medicine Center for Integrative Medicine. Call 410-448-6361 or email CIMClinicInfo@som.umaryland.edu for an appointment. Most health insurances are accepted. Reach him directly at email@example.com.
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