Sitting vs Standing
Nothing's going to come to you by sitting around and waiting for it.
Are you sitting too much?
Sitting – can damage your health
Our bodies are made to stand. When we stand, the natural curvature of the
spine helps distribute weight evenly throughout the body.
We are in balance.
Benefits of being more upright!
Decreased confusion, depression, fatigue and tension.
Increased agility, alertness, energy, focus, happiness, and vitality
Increased good cholesterol
Increased heart rate (by eight beats per minute)
Sitting – as comfortable and pleasant as it may be – is unnatural for the body. Weight isn’t distributed evenly, different parts of the body become strained and pained. Circulation slows and blood begins to gather in the legs. Spend even longer constantly seated and eventually the posture begins to break down – resulting in deformed ligaments and increasing the risk for slipped discs.
Among the problems that prolonged sitting can cause are
an increase in blood pressure
high blood sugar levels, poor circulation
... and more.
For those of us with nerve pain, many of the aforementioned problems can spell further trouble for our nerves. As neuropathy has already damaged our nerves and/or their protective coating (myelin sheath) – they are now even more susceptible to further damage.
5 ways a sedentary lifestyle can negatively impact the health of your nerves
High Blood Sugar
Researchers have linked sitting for long periods of time to a 2x increase in the risk of diabetes. Enzyme changes occur in our muscles that can lead to increased blood sugar levels. The effects of sitting on glucose happen very quickly, which is why regular exercise won’t fully protect you. But that is no excuse not to exercise.
Diabetes is the most common cause of neuropathy among adults. In type 2 diabetes, your body’s production of insulin – the chemical that regulates blood sugar – decreases. The excess blood sugar wreaks havoc on your nerves. Almost 70% of all diabetes patients have some form of nerve damage – usually referred to as diabetic neuropathy. For those with diabetic neuropathy, managing blood sugar levels is the key to stopping and reversing the damage to your nerves.
High Blood Pressure
Hypertension – or high blood pressure … imagine your blood vessels are like a bicycle tire tube. You need the right amount of air pressure for the tire to do its job. Too little pressure and it will be difficult to ride. Too much pressure and you may damage the integrity of the tube. So it is with our blood vessels. If the blood pressure gets too high – and remains high for too long – it can damage your arteries.
High blood pressure is linked to overactive nerves which have a difficult time performing their normal functions and often result in pain, tingling, numbness or irritation. Besides posing a threat to your nerves, high blood pressure is also linked to problems like heart disease, heart failure, stroke and more.
Muscle degeneration is the shrinking of muscle mass – usually caused by restriction in movement or due to prolonged periods of little to no physical activity. This can result in partial to complete muscle loss.
Sitting promotes muscle degeneration.
Sitting for a long period of time puts pressure on nerves – often resulting in a pinched nerve. Pinched nerves usually result from poor posture or sitting with the legs crossed for extended lengths of time. Symptoms typically include tingling and numbness in the affected area. Sharp pain, a burning sensation and irritation can also be associated with a pinched nerve.
The peripheral nervous system is a network of 43 pairs of motor and sensory nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system) to the entire human body. While the peripheral nerves are prone to being pinched – pinched nerves can actually affect any nerve in the body. It often afflicts the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body. In these cases, it usually results in lower black pain. Other areas commonly affected are the neck, legs, elbows and wrists.
The longer you sit, the more your blood circulation slows. As the circulation slows, blood begins to gather in the legs and feet. Poor circulation harms nerves by cutting off the flow of fresh blood – which carries vital oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Deprived of these, the nerve becomes weakened and more vulnerable to damage. Over time, reduced blood flow can cause neuropathic symptoms such as numbness, pain or tingling in your arms or legs.
Experts say that circulation can be negatively impacted after only ten minutes of sitting – so regular standing or stretching throughout the day can help get the blood flowing again and reduce any negative impacts. Aim to stand every hour and move for at least five minutes.
Tips for Minimising the Negative Effects of Sitting
Increasingly we tend to lead quite sedentary lives. We probably sit at work and then when we get home at night, we sit for another 3-4 hours or more browsing the Internet, watching tv, reading, etc. Whether we like it or not – the reality is that much of our lives are spent sitting.
So what can we do about it? A few things to try include:
Maintain good posture and use lumbar support
Request a standing desk
Schedule walking meetings rather than meeting in a conference room. Get out in nature if you can
Stand or stretch every 20-30 minutes at work, at a minimum every hour
Stand up every time you talk on the phone
Walk over to a person you were going to email and speak to them
Home & Lifestyle Tips:
Housework helps – assign a half hour and get energised
Get outdoors whenever you can – cycle, garden, hike, swim, walk
Iron whilst watching TV
Join a keep fit club
Watch TV by all means – but include standing and doing a simple
exercise during commercial breaks (i.e. some qi gong movements,
stretching, rebounding etc)
Walk on the treadmill while you watch your favourite TV programme!
Rigorous exercise at the end of the day won’t reverse the damaging effects of sitting. The chemical changes and effects of sitting happen so quickly that the best defense it to break up your sitting routine throughout the day.