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Sit less and feel better

LPNI Health Topic – September 2017
            Sit less and feel better!

Sitting and standing are common practices for all ages.   Adults spend most of their time when they are awake, “in place” -- either sitting or standing.  A lifestyle of low mobility begins already in childhood, and continues in youth.  When one goes to school more time is spent sitting.  Sitting has become a way of life for a large part of the population.  Fortunately, many people are active and exercise after work or school days, but it is not enough to eliminate the health problems that long-term sitting causes.  According one European research study, adults sit an average of 5-6 hours a day.   Some people sit for even longer periods of time.
Health disadvantages from sitting and standing still.  Sitting and standing have a connection with several long-term illnesses for example arterial disease and diabetes.  Particularly harmful is sitting in front of the TV. If you sit at least 7 hours a day watching TV, you`ll have a greater risk of overall mortality than those who watch TV less than 1 hour. According to the long-term follow-up research, leisure sitting is even more harmful to health than sitting at work because it is often even more passive.
When one sits in front of the television, computer or phone, one often may eat not all that healthy “goodies” at that time.  One may eat less healthy foods, eat more and with serving sizes larger than when eating at the dining table with friends or family.
Sustained sitting can burden the supporting construction of the body, and it is probably the primary cause of neck and lower back pains.  Sitting and immobility can also cause edema to the lower limbs when the blood flow in veins declines.   Big muscles are passive when sitting, the basic metabolism slows and fat accumulates around the waist and stomach.
Standing and walking decrease the disadvantages of sitting.  Fortunately, prevention of these disadvantages is easy and cheap.  It demands only conscious action.  It is healthy to take a break after sitting for 30 minutes and, if possible, to stand up and make a few easy movements with the feet to use big muscles.  Then the big muscles get exercise and oxygen, and the entire metabolic activity improves.  Human beings are created to move.  It is better to have short exercise periods often during the day than to have a long one such as an hour of strenuous exercise after a sedentary day.  Long- lasting sitting lowers the metabolism and that is not healthy.
Light exercise and being on one`s feet is the best alternative to passive sitting.  In the workplace, people often sit behind a desk for hours just staring at a computer without speaking to their colleagues.  A short break to get a cup of coffee or a glass of water, or sharing a few words and smiles with co-workers can add social wellbeing as well as physical wellbeing.
One does not have to be an athlete to be in better condition.  Small choices of daily life, like choosing to take the stairs instead of the lift, choosing walking for short trips instead of driving the car, etc. can have a significant impact on improving one’s entire wellbeing.
We have used information to this article from the Finnish website:

Mirva Kuikka Executive secretary, RN, deaconess
Lea Rättyä Regional Coordinator, PhD, MTh, RN, deaconess

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