We’ve all heard the phrase “Sitting is the new smoking”. The dangers of our sedentary life style have been well established at this point, and pretty much everybody now knows that sitting for long periods of time can pose serious dangers for our health.
Just now, for example, we’re hearing about a new study that has found that the more people sit, the greater the likelihood they will show signs of an injury to their heart muscles.
Dr. James de Lemos, a cardiologist and professor at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, oversaw the study and says: “Sedentary behavior is associated with obesity, insulin resistance and fat deposition in the heart, all of which can lead to injury to the heart.”
But there are lots and lots of ways to sit and lumping them all under the one (now deemed deadly) category of “sitting” may well mask a more fundamental question: “Are there ways of sitting that are healthier than others and, if so, what are they?”
As a teacher of the Alexander Technique I help students improve their sitting habits all the time. Indeed “chair work” is a jargon phrase for a procedure used in teaching the Technique.
An Alexander Technique teacher and retired Professor of Architecture, Galen Cranz, wrote a book titled The Chair: Rethinking Culture Body and Design which includes some useful information on ways to sit that put less strain on your body.
The truth is that a bit of education can help most people sit in ways that are far less harmful to their heath – learning where their sit bones are, for example, and sitting on a stool that allows their knees to be below their hip joints.
Even more useful for people who have to sit for long periods of time is learning how to use simple Alexander Technique self-directions that will help them sit with greater ease.
So, yes, prolonged sitting carries potential health risks. But you can go a long way towards minimizing those risks with a bit of simple bio-mechanical education and mindful self-direction.
You absolutely don’t have to passively sit your way into a grave!
You can read about Dr. de Lentos’ study here.
You can read Galen Cranz’s article: Alexander Technique in the world of design: posture and the common chair – Part I – The Chair as a health hazard
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