Health Risks of Sitting

No buts about it. If you spend lots of time sitting, make sure you have the proper chair. And when sitting, keep moving.

The United States is a sitting society. Jobs that require sitting at our desks vastly outnumber those that need us to keep moving, according to the U.S. Consensus statistics. And half our working hours, Its estimated, are spent sitting to commute to work, at work, during coffee breaks, at meals, in front of the TV set and all of course all the time we spend at our computers.

Unfortunately, many people dont have the proper chairs for all that inactivity, and the wrong chair is as bad for you as a pair of shoes that dont fit.

No matter on what, all that sitting, is also bad for your health. Gravity leads fluid to collect in the ankles and feet, causing swelling, or pedal edema. Being in the wrong chair only compounds the problem. Among the physical ailments associated with poorly chosen chairs are backache, headache, fatigue, insomnia, and impaired blood circulation.

In choosing the correct chair, experts say you should check for four factors:

Make sure that the chairs height keeps your hip joints and your knee joints flexed at right angles and your feet flat on the floor. Thats a fancy way of saying sit up straight.
The backrest should fit snugly in the small of your back to support the lower spine.
The seat should slant slight backwards to allow you to lean against the backrest. Its seat should not dig into the backs of your legs. Also, if you have to turn a lot to reach different equipment or to complete tasks, be sure the seat swivels so that your entire torso can move as a unit.
The material covering the seat should be porous, to allow body heat to escape. No vinyl.
Proper chair or no, physiologists advise that you not stay seated for long. When traveling, get out of your car, plane or train seat every hour or so and walk around. Get up from behind your desk every so often for stroll. Pace while watching television. At the very least, elevate your feet now and then to avoid swelling in the ankles and feet.
Keep moving even when youre sitting down. Do leg spreads, walk and run in place, cross your arms, do side bends.

And if you have to stay seated, mimic children, fitness experts advise. Squirm, kick up your leg and rotate your ankles, swing your arms and clasp your legs to your chest, roll your head around on your neck.Youll not only feel more fit but younger at heartand thats a pretty place to be sitting.Robin Westen is ThirdAges medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. She is the author of Ten Days to Detox: How to Look and Feel a Decade Younger.See what others have to say about this story or leave a comment of your own.
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