7 ways to improve your lifestyle and avoid 'sitting disease.'

Do you suffer from back ache, shoulder pain or unexplained stiffness and soreness in your joints? If so, you may be experiencing some of the symptoms of the recently identified syndrome, 'sitting disease.'

Go to the profile of Frances A Masters
Jun 16, 2015
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'Sitting disease' is an emerging phenomena highlighted by recent studies, which have concluded that sitting down for too long can be as dangerous as smoking, and significantly increases the risk of type II diabetes, kidney disease, muscle, joint and back pain.

According to a statement by the World Health Organisation, inactivity is the fourth biggest killer of adults.

Now, Leicester University in the UK has conducted a meta analysis of 18 studies incorporating 800,000 people. They conclude that 'sitting disease' is a real and growing problem .

Researchers found that extended sedentary periods change muscle enzymes which can raise blood sugar levels and, the troubling news is that, even regular workouts at the gym do not counteract the dangers.

Dr Ann Hoskins, Deputy Director for Health and Wellbeing, Healthy People, Public Health England said:

'This research supports the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendations to minimise how much we sit still. Being active is good for your physical and mental health. Simple behaviour changes to break up long periods of sitting can make a huge difference.'

Move it or lose it

There is no doubt, our bodies are designed for movement, with spines comprised of 26 mobile blocks of bone which, like our knees, hips, ankles and feet, are all designed to rotate, bend and extend.

Lack of frequent and regular movement leads to stiffness, soreness and weakness. But, many of us in the UK can spend up to 70% of our days sitting down, whether driving a car, sitting at a desk, a computer or slouching in front of a TV.

And the rising trend of working from home simply compounds the problem. Many people do not leave their homes for days on end.

Sitting disease is another example of how modern living is taking us further and further away from the kind of natural lifestyle enjoyed by our ancestors which supported both physical and mental health.

The threat to our physical and emotional health

Being indoors for extended periods has real implications for our mood and emotional well-being too, due to the little known connection between light and the feel-good brain hormone, serotonin.

Full spectrum light travels through the retina of the human eye and is transferred directly onto the brain where it has an immediate effect on our serotonin level. Indoors, we receive up to 100 units of light, or lux, per hour.

Outdoors, on an overcast day, we receive up to 10,000 units and, at midday in full sun, we can receivea staggering 100,000 units, which is a key explanation forseasonal affective disorder when people in temperate climates, complain of low mood and reduced energy during the cold and dark winter months.

Professor Russell Foster, an expert on circadian rhythms at Imperial College, London, gives this warning in his book The Rhythms of life:

'With low levels of light, it is not possible for the body to properly adjust the circadian body clock, and sleep patterns become disturbed leading to a range of ill health problems ranging from mild to severe.

Night shift workers may suffer from sleep disorders, poor vigilance, an increased chance of accidents, gastro-intestinal disease, an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, and there is some evidence of a link with early onset diabetes.'

With our shifting work patterns and changing lifestyles, it's clear we all need to take responsibility and be personally proactive to protect both for our physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Use these tips to support your physical and emotional health

  1. Avoid sitting down for longer than 30 minutes at a time.
  2. Raise your desk or workstation, so that you are standing, rather than sitting whilst at the computer.
  3. When standing, move around, fidget, shift your weight from foot to foot, to increase blood circulation
  4. Make sure you get active outdoors every day for at least 20 min to get the circulation moving and to benefit from the positive effects of full spectrum light on mind and body.
  5. Use your walk for breathing deeply, enjoying the outdoor environment and re-energising. This will increase the blood supply to all internal organs, including the brain, which will help with general fitness, concentration and efficiency.
  6. If you are able to, arrange for regular massages to loosen tension in aching muscles and joints and for deep relaxation.
  7. Get a pedometer or app to monitor your movement. Remember, your body is designed for a natural lifestyle of outdoor activity. Aim at taking at least 10,000 steps a day.

Go to the profile of Frances A Masters

Frances A Masters

Psychotherapist, Coach, Writer. Live your best life.

Do you want to be happier and more resilient? Some people seem to just 'bounce back' no matter what life throws at them. We can't choose many of life's events but we certainly do have a choice about how we respond. My passion for mental health began 25 years ago when I suffered postnatal depression and realised the help I needed simply wasn't there. The pills didn't work. In fact they made things worse. What I really needed was to understand how anxiety, depression and emotional ill health can develop. I needed to learn good 'mind management' skills which would act like a 'psychological inoculation' against future problems. When I recovered, I made a decision to find out how and why I had become so depressed and made a personal pledge to do something to provide the kind of help for others which I had needed. I wanted to prevent people suffering unnecessarily. So I embarked on a personal and professional journey and, along the way, developed a brand new approach to health and well-being. My journey began with four years of traditional counselling training, followed by a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapy. I studied cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), hypnotherapy, coaching and cognitive neuroscience. I built up 30,000 hours professional experience which I brought together into the new happiness and resilience programme l named 'Fusion.' I also wrote a book about how to resolve post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), founded a therapeutic coaching charity and trained volunteers to work in this new way. This training programme would later become the nationally accredited Fusion Therapeutic Coaching Diploma and Distance Learning Skills Certificate. Now... The journey continues. Now I want to reveal all my professional secrets about good mind management to as many people as possible through social media and by training Fusion Breakthrough trainers from all over the world. One of them could be you... Something new.. Something different.. Something which lasts.. What if you could experience one day which could actually change your life for good; giving you your own eureka moment; not only helping you create a vision of the life you want to live, but actually give you the real skills to get there and stay there? Fusion is a tried and tested system which combines the best of psychotherapy and coaching into a powerful new formula for lasting change. My aim is to help and empower as many people as possible to feel their best, be their best and live their best lives. Perhaps I could help you too....

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