Stand up and Stretch

standing peopleWith this being cyber-Monday, a day dedicated to finding the best online deals it is only fitting that I remind us all how important it is for us to stand up. If you are reading this from a seated position and it has been more than 30 minutes since you sat down I highly recommend that you stand up.

The simple act of standing engages a number of muscles that are completely passive when we sit. These passive muscles are our glutes (the modern seat cushion), hamstrings (back of the thigh), iliopsoas (hip flexors) and quadriceps (front of thighs). These are all core muscles that help to stabilize our backs. When we allow these muscles to become overly passive we create an environment where our back is more vulnerable to strain.

The simple act of standing reduces the weight on our lower spine by more than half of what it is when we sit. Sitting places our weight on the bottom of our pelvis on two bony protuberances called the ischial tuberosity. Sitting on the pelvis like this transfers the weight of our upper body back into the spine and can increase the pressure on our lower back to 7 times what we would incur if we were lying on the floor with our knees bent. When we stand up, the weight of our upper body travels through the pelvis and into our legs which makes standing only about 3 times the amount of force on our lower back.

The simple act of standing is more likely to involve proper posture than sitting. Let’s face it, when we sit for long periods of time we tend to slump. We either lean off to one side or we slouch in a way that collapses the front of our spine and flexes our back. This rounded back position will increase the pressure on the back of the spinal discs, wearing them out prematurely and increasing our chances of disc problems.

The simple act of standing may reduce your risk of death. As it turns out, too much sitting can be dangerous to our health. A recent study of older women found that too much sitting was linked to a greater risk of death. This study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that even women who exercised regularly were at a greater risk if they spent most of their day sitting.

So, let’s stand up. If you really take this to heart you can even get a standing computer desk so you can shop online without shortening your lifespan.

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