It is winter here in the North, and I know I am sitting way more than I do any other time of the year. My kids are too, given the current situation with school being all zoom calls. It got me thinking about what happens when we sit so long. I notice there are times I am slouched over my computer and I have to consciously sit up and roll my shoulders back. What effect does this have on the body? Read on to learn more.
Chronic sitting triggers back pain and neck tension, contributes to stress, and saps energy and productivity. But often overlooked, it can also have a negative impact on the health of the gut.
While the effects of sitting can be extreme, the causes are quite simple. The two primary factors that negatively impact your gut health from too much sitting are decreased blood flow and increased pressure on your digestive tract.
Decreased blood flow
When we sit for long periods of time we know that blood flow is decreased due to the compression of our organs. In fact, a sedentary lifestyle has been positively linked with inflammatory bowel disease and other digestive problems. Constipation can also be caused by a sedentary lifestyle which can lead to a myriad of complications if not addressed.
Increased pressure on your digestive tract
This occurs just by sitting. Have you ever felt so full after a meal that sitting made you feel worse? This is because just by sitting you are decreasing the blood flow to your organs, which in return slows down your digestive system. If your digestive system slows down you will be more prone to intestinal problems that can show up as gas, bloating, belching, heartburn, cramps, or other discomfort after eating.
Five Things You Can Start Doing Today
When you are sitting, make sure you have proper posture. What does this look like? This means having your shoulders relaxed, sitting up straight with arms close to your sides, positioning a computer so that you’re looking straight at it (not up or down), elbows bent at 90 degrees, feet flat on the floor and something behind your low back for support (a small, rolled up towel works).
Set a reminder on your phone to do a posture check a few times a day. Maybe every hour!
Make sure you get up and move every hour. My apple watch sends me an alarm if I have been sitting too long. I know this bothers many, but I actually like it. A reminder I need to get up and move.
Incorporate a stretching routine, and make sure it involves the stretching of your hip flexors, they get extremely tight from sitting too long.
When at your desk, try to alternate between sitting and standing, and when you are standing, make sure you are standing up tall, shoulders back.