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Sitting could be killing you! >> As per WHO, over 60% of chronic health problems today are caused by lifestyle. So if you see a hundred people queue up in a hospital, over 60 of them end there because of the lifestyle they lead. And this number is only bound to increase over time.

As software professionals coding away, being chained to a desk and working towards deadlines, also creates a typical lifestyle. With this lifestyle, emerge health problems and wellness related issues. In a series of articles, we’ll explore the “techie lifestyle”, it’s health risks and how to avoid it.

Consider a usual day in the life of a techie. He/she gets up from sleep. Sits on the table to have breakfast (if they do eat one), then sits on a western commode, goes on to sit in a car or bike only to later sit at the desk followed by sitting at the cafeteria and sitting back at work. After work it’s sitting for happy hours or sitting in a car back home, sitting for dinner and then sitting to watch TV to finally sleep.

On an average, a techie is in the sitting position for about 11 hours in a day.

Here are some facts, problems and their solutions one needs to be aware of –

The human body is made for movement, not sitting.

Your body has about 360 bone joints and about 700 muscles attached to the bones. The purpose of these structures are to aid and make movement free and smooth. Your skin is elastic so it can take the shape of the body in movement. Your spine and related organs help you stand erect and balance your body against an ever pulling gravitational force.

Normal sitting posture (prolonged)

The normal prolonged sitting posture is a curved back with a slumped shoulder. There are many problems that arise with this posture.

Unwanted pressure on spine – Your spine holds multitude of muscles, nerves and other organ systems together. Prolonged sitting in the wrong posture puts undue pressure on the spine and leads to wear and tear of the spinal discs.

Shrunken chest cavity – In the slumped posture, the lungs do not function at its optimum capacity. Breathing becomes erratic and limits the amount of oxygen in blood.

Lowered brain function – Your brain has a set menu for proper functioning. The diet is oxygen and blood. With a slumped posture, the amount of oxygenated blood reaching the brain is reduced. This leads to lack of focus, irritability and other problems with the endocrine system.

Bone loss – A passive person is more susceptible to bone loss and ages faster.

Weight gain – There is a super Mario among enzymes. He is called LIPOPROTEIN LIPASE. It is located on the walls of blood vessels. It jumps on the fat cells and breaks them down.
The heart – With a predominantly sitting lifestyle the overall risk of cardio vascular diseases is 54% extra.

More fear – 9% of worldwide deaths are caused by inactivity.

An hour of activity or gym does not help

Most of us believe that an hour of activity like walking or hitting the gym would compensate for the long hours of sitting. The fact is it does not. A short burst of good behavior for the body will not recover the body from the overall damage caused by 12 hours of sitting.

Improving posture is not the best solution

The reason is simple. On an average, most of us focus on the work in from of you rather than correcting your posture while doing the work. And the human brain can only process one thought at a time for it to be processed at its best. With prolonged work, our body slips into a slumped posture without our knowledge.

Suggested solutions

Stand up, every hour – Keep reminders if required. The idea is to stand up from the moving posture, take a quick stroll.

Neck rotation – With the spine erect, look to your left and right. Look up and down. Let your chin bone touch your breast bone. Throw your head back slowly to a good stretch. Make big and slow circles with your neck – clockwise three and anti-clockwise three times.

Shoulder rotation – Keeping your spine erect, rotate your shoulders back and forth.
Calf lift – Stand up erect. Lift your heals up and you stand on your toes. Repeat 4 more times.

Wrist rotation – Keep your hands straight in front of you. Make a fist. Now slowly, rotate your fist clockwise and anti-clockwise.

Twists – Sit erect. Place your right palm on the left knee. Take your left palm back and twist as much as you can. Your spine will thank you for this.

Toe touch – Sit erect. Take a deep breath. Exhale and you bend down to touch your toes. Let your stomach touch your thighs. Breath a few times in this posture and slowly sit back up.

Stretch – Sit erect and interlock your fingers in front of you. Now stealth as your move your hands up to the point above your head. Repeat.

Breathe – Sit erect. Tuck your stomach. Breath slow and fill fresh air into your lungs. Exhale slowly. Repeat 5 times.

Get back to work.

This routine will take about 5 minutes. Within these five minutes, your blood flow will increase. Your blood will be better oxygenated. The brain wakes up with a smile. Your spine is fresh and ready for another hour of sitting. Your joints and muscles have had their movement and blood supply is back. Overall, your body is a well-oiled machine again ready for the grind.

In our deadline chasing lifestyle, the priority to health is restricted to an hour at the gym and counting steps and calories with a mobile app. Well, your body and mind require much more than that. Try following this routine on an hourly basis and you’ll see a marked difference in your energy levels. The idea is to get up and get moving.

Author Info :  Ranjith Vallathol – An IT professional turned wellness Consultant. Reach himat [email protected]


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