The Effects of Sedentary Lifestyle in the Modern Professional

The workforce in the United States has tremendously shifted over the past fifty years. For most Americans, a typical workday does not involve manual labor. With the advance of technology, occupations have become more sedentary. Not including sleeping, the average American worker is seated for 10-13 hours per day. If you add in eight hours of sleep, then we’re looking at 21 hours of inactivity! This is quite the contrast to how ancient man evolved and survived. The body was designed to move.

Let’s take a time machine back to 10,000 B.C. This time period is crucial, as mankind is discovering the process of farming. This is the time period that plants the seeds of the agricultural revolution. Prior to farming, mankind’s only two options to obtain food were to hunt or gather. There were not any grocery stores, farmer’s markets, or fast food options. If you were hungry, then you ventured in the woods for small game, nuts, and berries. Simply out, your survival was both your exercise and your occupation. Obviously, a sedentary lifestyle was not an option for survival or the continuation of mankind.

It is quite ironic that we live in a time period were being sedentary is almost required to be successful. However, our health directly suffers. Here are some troubling statistics: one out three people in the United States is obese, one out of three is hypertensive, and one out of ten is diabetic. Our body suffers when seated for extended periods of time. Medical Professionals compared sedentary workers to workers that are continuously on the move and found the seated workers have a significantly higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. (ex. Bus Driver vs. Postal Worker)

Sitting for long periods of time slows your metabolism to a crawl. This is not beneficial if you are trying to reduce bodyweight or body fat. A sedentary lifestyle creates muscle shortening, stiffness, and aches.  Individuals who spend years sitting at their job compromise their posture, their core is weakened, and they can expect to become familiar with shoulder, neck, lower back, and knee issues. Sitting for too long creates an upper and lower cross syndrome of the human body. With the upper cross, the shoulders roll forward, the upper back is stiff and rounded, the neck protrudes forward, and the chest caves in. With the lower cross, the abdomen is weakened, the lower back muscles stiffen and shorten, the hip flexors shorten and stiffen, and the glutes are weakened.

Well gosh, that sounds just horrible. How do we mitigate this problem? Step 1: Avoid being seated for longer than 1 hour at a time. Try to stand up and walk every twenty minutes. Step 2: Regularly exercise. An additional 30-minute walk and strength training will prevent wear and tear on the body. Step 3: Stretch. Flexibility in the skeletal muscles promotes blood flow through the tissues as well as elasticity, which prevents muscle stiffness and shortening.

  • Compared with our parents or grandparents, we are spending increasing amounts of time in environments that not only limit physical activity but require prolonged sitting—at work, at home, and in our cars and communities.1Work sites, schools, homes, and public spaces have been (and continue to be) re-engineered in ways that minimize human movement and muscular activity. These changes have a dual effect on human behavior: people move less and sit more. From an evolutionary perspective, humans were designed to move—and engage in all manner of manual labor throughout the day. This was essential to our survival as a species. The recent shift from a physically demanding life to one with few physical challenges has been sudden, occurring during a tiny fraction of human existence.”

The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

Wyomissing Fitness and Training is an upscale gym established in Sept 2011 and located in the heart of Wyomissing. This full service and recently expanded fitness center offers 25,000 square foot space of free weights, cardio equipment, cross-training, power-lifting, selectorized weight machines, and a multitude and wide variety of fitness classes, along with a team of top-notch personal trainers.  They are renowned for their ultra clean facility and encouraging and motivating staff. Stop in to check out their amazing space and stay tuned for the grand opening of their second location, Exeter Fitness and Training in the Boscov’s East Plaza this fall! My Gut Instinct is proud to call Wyomissing Fitness and Training our ongoing partner and avid supporter of Guts and Glory since our inception in 2014.

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