EP 117 – Eat This: Are you sitting down?

Are you sitting down? I’m not asking because I have bad news to share, but that the position that you’re in right now as you sit could seriously be hampering your healthy efforts. The time that we now spend sitting; at a desk, driving, watching TV, scrolling on the phone, sitting on a bus or train, or even on a plane, well anywhere else you can sit, is actually detrimental to our health. With sitting being called a health risk that is the same as smoking, bringing attention and awareness to why that is, needs to be talked about. We can’t stand everywhere, and when my legs get tired of standing at my stand-up desk partway through the day at work, I sit. Not sitting is impossible, but the issue is the length of time that we sit. We sit for hours, then transfer to another chair or car, then back to your desk, and with sitting linked to obesity, increased blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes and hypoglycemia, and even cancer, we need to add this to our awareness.

I came across an analysis of 13 studies of sitting time and activity levels, and found that those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking. Increased death and sitting are now in the same sentence and that’s all the wake-up call that we need. Not that sitting equals death, but it’s the sedentary lifestyle of all the sitting and inactivity. Think about your sore or stiff neck, back, shoulders, hips, knees or even ankles. Well when the muscles aren’t used for longer periods of time, they lose strength. Your glutes, aka your bum that you’re sitting on, need to have a level of strength to help your legs move right, for your alignment and posture to be upright enough that you aren’t in pain from weak back muscles even.

We know everything is connected in the body and because of that all the sitting, or worse, sitting on the wrong chair without support can even lead to headaches, that lead to taking more pain meds, that make the detoxification pathways work more, and that has a knock on effect. Think about the past two years, when everyone started working from home. The dining room table and chairs or kitchen table and chairs, or even the couch became the office and that led to a lot of physical discomfort for so many. In a nutshell, sitting for the amount of time that happens these days isn’t good and touches on many aspects of health that you might not know of.

So today on EAT THIS with Lianne, the impact of sitting on your health with a smarty pants biomechanics, ergonomics, and human movement who knows a lot more about this than you or I do, and what can we do to negate the negative effects because we aren’t going to stand for the rest of our lives!

We weren’t meant to sit in front of a desk for long periods, or sit scrolling on the phone on the couch, on transit, or even sitting on the toilet! Ah ha, gotcha. Yep, that’s a crazy phenomenon, isn’t it?! Spending a LONG time in the bathroom, but not waiting for your last night’s fibrous meal to exit your bowels, but because you’re watching up on what Sally did and posted to Instagram. Knowing that sitting and inactivity doesn’t help anything, but to highlight a few particular issues, it can make digestion, circulation, detoxification, immunity and even your hormonal health worse. Does that seem far-fetched? Maybe, but if we take a step back and think it through, without movement, your lymph doesn’t get pushed around your body and carry out the waste that it needs to filter, clogging up your drainage channels. Your intestines are compressed as you hunch over while sitting as opposed to moving or walking being like a massage for your digestive system and helps keep the muscles of the abdomen engaged. Movement in general can lead to more frequent and efficient bowel movements that take old and broken down hormones and even cholesterol out of your body. Sitting for hours makes that harder. Your heart has to pump blood without the extra help of movement and tone to your heart muscle. There is even literature that links mental health issues of depression and anxiety to inactivity. With it being Mental Health Month at the time of recording this, I wonder if anyone is talking about the link between sitting and mental health? Clearly there are far reaching effects of sitting, and today we are going to learn from a clever entrepreneur with a strong science background in Kinesiology, specializing in biomechanics and sports medicine. His knowledge complements professions such as Physical Therapy, Chiropractic and Ergonomics. Patrick has specific expertise in seating and positioning, ergonomics, biomechanics, physiology, and equipment design that have allowed him to be an expert on the challenges associated with traditional equipment design and workplace ergonomics. 

With career experiences involving clinical intervention for persons with severe physical challenges, Patrick has a thorough comprehension of how the human body operates. He speaks on the topic of human movement, and has a wealth of knowledge on the physiological effects associated with inactivity. Folks, we are in good hands today. Welcome the founder and CEO of the innovative active sitting Core Chair, Patrick Harrison. Thanks so much for joining us on EAT THIS with Lianne today.

On our lovely loyal listeners behalf, thank you for the opportunity for listeners to get 15% off their own Core Chair when you go to corechair.com/eatthis

So what are the things that you can do to prevent your sitting situation not shortening your life expectancy? 

  • Take a break from sitting every 30 minutes. Do you have a smart watch that tells you to stand like mine does? If not, set a timer. Seriously, time waits for no one and 30 minutes can easily become over an hour if you’re focused on something. 
  • Stand up while talking on the phone or watching television. Walk aroun the kitchen island as you are on a conference call or do what I do and take a colleague a cup of tea as I make myself one and his desk is on the other side of the office to mine. 
  • If you work at a desk, try a standing desk — or improvise with a high table or even kitchen counter. If you want to be super flash, get a treadmill desk. That’s movement and productivity at it’s best. 
  • Walk with your colleagues for meetings rather than sitting in a conference room. There is a movement of this, seriously. And it seems to be a lot more productive. Not so much for taking notes, but that’s where a voice recorder will come in handy. 
  • Work out before work, at lunch or after work. Bookend all that sitting with movement or even take a walk right after work, whether you have dog to take with you or not.
  • Look at your posture. Now that you’ve heard what Partick had to say, how is your posture as you sit at your desk or on the couch? Can you add in another pillow somewhere so you’re not slouched? Then at each commercial, if it’s a binge night, stand up and move around. No not to the kitchen for ice cream Chris. And if you’re streaming, then seriously move in between episodes! 
  • And keep your phone out of the bathroom, please. 

Although we haven’t talked about what to put in your mouth today, I hope the conversation has been enlightening none the less. Do you have a topic that you’d like me to do a deep dive into? Reach out on either of my websites, liannephillipson.com and sproutright.com or follow me along on social media and send a message on liannephillipson and sproutright handles. Share this episode with your boss and let him or her know that CoreChair is the best option to sit on all day long and check out corechair.com/eatthis for that 15% off discount too. I’m off to have a wee dance with my Tango chair, so I’ll leave you by saying thank you for being here and taking responsibility for your own health, and as always remember to eat this one mouthful at a time. 

About Patrick

Patrick Harrison is a Kinesiologist and designer of the CoreChair. His first successful business focused on the design of specialized seating solutions for individuals who were dependent on wheelchairs for mobility. In 2008, Patrick leveraged this experienced-based knowledge to create the CoreChair, an active sitting solution for deskbound employees. He has become a source of knowledge for individuals and corporations to identify health risks manifesting as back pain and metabolic disorders and to implement solutions in the workplace.

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