What People Need to Know About Sitting While Working and in School

It’s no big secret that exercise is good for you. Many articles and books have been written and studies completed on the subject of physical fitness. However, lately it’s been discussed as to whether that five mile run or spin class is really enough. Is our work or school environment undoing any positive effort we put into staying healthy?

The short answer is YES. Human bodies were not built to sit for long periods of time. Our twenty-first century workplace — working behind a desk, typing on the computer, endless video conferences — unfortunately stacks against us to keep us on our… well, not our feet.

There are four harmful results on a person’s body that stem from sitting at work or in school all day.

Sitting for many hours each day takes a toll on our backs.

Working at a desk for many hours a day causes employees and students to stay in one position for an extended length of time. This puts a great deal of pressure on their backs. Over time, painful back and neck problems can develop and, if left untreated, continue to worsen.

Sitting also takes a toll on our waistline.

Obesity is at an all time high in the United States, and at least a good chunk of the reason is our sedentary lifestyle. Sitting for a long period (8 or more hours a day) decreases our metabolism, causing us to burn fewer calories. The time at our desks can end up packing on the pounds.

Sitting can increase the chance of developing a life-threatening disease.

Studies show individuals with sedentary jobs have more health problems than their active counterparts. Cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes are both examples of health issues that arise more often in people who regularly sit down most of the day.

Sitting can cause premature death.

This may sound melodramatic, but it’s true. As we talked about above, sitting for prolonged periods of time puts you at greater risk of diseases that may end up killing you. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, “found people who sat for over 11 hours a day had a 40% greater risk of dying within three years from any cause than people who sat less than 4 hours a day.”

So, what should a sedentary office person do to improve their health and decrease the risk many hours of daily sitting causes?

  • Get on your feet! Schedule times during the day to stand up and walk around. If you can’t remember to do it, add an alarm on your cell phone. Even a couple minutes on your feet every hour will help balance prolonged sitting.  Dr. Ness recommends getting up to stretch for 1 minute 1-2 times per hour.  It is impossible to undo 8 hours of sitting by stretching 1-2 times per day.
  • Learn to sit correctly. If you must sit, make certain your chair isn’t causing more damage. Select a chair that is height and angle adjustable. The seat should support your lower body, and the back should fit the curves of your spine. Special bonus points go to chairs with lumbar support and that rock.
  • Visit your chiropractor. Back problems brought on by a job behind a desk are not going to magically go away, and can get worse over time. Make a chiropractor appointment, get examined, and work to correct the issue.
  • Invest in a standing desk. A growing trend is to turn a sitting job into a standing job. Desks that are taller have the ability to keep you on your feet longer, which will provide many health benefits in the long run.

Good health is one of our greatest assets, and it pays to protect it. By understanding the risks of a sedentary working environment, we can be proactive in increasing activity and promoting our individual fitness.

If you or a loved one needs more insight on how chiropractic can guide you toward a healthier lifestyle, give Dr. Ness a call. We’re here to help!

Dr. David Ness is a certified sports chiropractor practicing in NY since 1988. Dr. Ness is the official chiropractor for the football team at United States Military Academy at West Point since 2015. Dr. Ness also provides onsite sports chiropractic care at Marist College since 2014, and Vassar College during the school year since 2010.

5 Tips Chiropractic Patients Can Use When Choosing The Perfect Pillow

Neck pain is nobody’s friend, and it is definitely not an ideal sleeping companion. Pain-filled nights can leave a person dull, groggy, and not ready to face the day in the morning. Unfortunately, certain sleeping positions can further aggravate neck pain to the point it robs a person of a good night’s sleep.

If you suffer from neck pain, the toll it takes on deep sleep isn’t news to you. What may surprise you, however, is choosing the right pillow can make a huge difference in whether you lie awake grumpily watching the clock or snuggle cozily into dream land.

A million pillow choices await you. The first order of business is determining the primary position you sleep in. Certain shapes of pillows cradle the head and neck more comfortably, depending on the sleeping position.

Now that you have determined your favorite sleeping position, you are ready to shop for a new pillow. Be certain to keep these five tips in mind before you settle on your new bed mate.

#1: Ask for a recommendation from your chiropractor.

Before selecting your new pillow, talk to the person who understands the cause of your neck pain, your chiropractor. He or she will give you some valuable pointers on choosing the pillow that will be most beneficial.

#2: Do your research.

Fire up the Internet and search for pillows by your sleeping position. Read the reviews from people who also have neck pain, and see which pillows helped them. Note the pillow name, price, and store that sells it.

#3: Think about the filling.

Pillows are filled with a variety of materials, and you will need to consider which one is right for you. Feather pillows may offer neck comfort, but if you are allergic this is the wrong choice.

Memory foam is a popular choice because of it’s ability to contour to your body’s shape. Give some thought to the type of filling that best suits your sleeping style.

#4: Consider the size.

Pillows should generally be between 4-6 inches in height, and should alleviate the pressure points around your neck and shoulders. Extra thick pillows or especially flat ones are most likely the wrong choices (again, this depends on your sleeping position).

Your size should also be considered when choosing a pillow. A large person needs a bigger pillow, while a more petite person should go with a smaller pillow. The bottom line is the pillow should provide support and comfort, and hold your neck in a neutral position.

#5: Don’t try to ‘make do’ with a budget pillow.

Pillows designed to reduce neck pain are not going to be cheap. With all the less expensive pillows available, its tempting to settle for a more modestly priced option.

Before you end up spending a smaller amount of cash on a pillow that won’t alleviate your current problem, remember the many painful nights and groggy mornings that you would have paid a ton of money just to feel good. Then open your wallet and buy the pillow that will minimize that from ever happening again. Parting with the cash won’t kill you. We promise.

Neck pain and the lack of sleep that results is a serious issue. Addressing it with a good chiropractor is the first step toward improving the situation.

Shopping for the perfect pillow is a close second in importance. By following these tips and taking the time to choose the right pillow, you will be snoozing away pain-free in no time at all!