I read an article recently about the effects of sitting for long periods of time on your health which shocked me and made me look afresh at my own behaviour. You probably like me wouldn’t have associated heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even cancer with sitting down for too long but this is the conclusion being drawn by many scientific studies. The average Britain is said to sit for between 9 and 14 hours a day. When you consider that after only one and a half hours blood flow at the back of the knee drops by 50% and after only 4 hours changes start taking place at the cellular level with genes regulating fat and sugar in the body beginning to shut down. Most of us are unwittingly putting ourselves in danger at the office, relaxing on the sofa, driving and I guess even going to the cinema.
It is easier to see the link between sitting for long periods with back pain and it is a huge problem in this county with 4 out of 5 of us statistically expecting to suffer from it as some point in our lives. In most cases our sedentary life styles are to blame as our bodies are designed to and function best when moving. Interestingly emotions also play a part and it has been found that those who said they enjoyed their jobs were less likely to suffer back problems.
Monks in various traditions also faced this problem as they sat in meditation for long periods of time. Despite not having the back up of scientific studies many systems intuitively realised that periods of inactivity need to interspaced with activity. In Zen and Vipassana they often walk and sit alternately and in Taoist traditions they developed the complex therapeutic exercise systems of tao yin and chi kung(Qigong).
I have been guilty of sitting for hours at a desk and not moving in the past. Having the discipline to move every now and again for some reason at the time didn’t come naturally to me. Recently I bought a book on stretching which had some very quick and simple routines for the morning and evening that take only 3 or 4 minutes. It also has a whole section on office fitness with some fun and creative stretches for the desk worker some routines just take 1 minute! Highly recommended for someone who doesn’t have the time or inclination to go to an exercise class, learn chi kung, tao yin or yoga. A few minutes a day could change your life and add years to it. Otherwise come along to our next class in Holborn to learn basic tao yin and chi kung which you can adapt for the office environment or at least do when you are at home or in the car. Both options are only a £10 to £15 investment.