are designed for an unstable outdoor environment in which we’re in more or less
constant motion… The body wants to be moving that’s how the muscles remain
strong and the ligaments stay supportive.
Spare a thought for all the call centre workers. In their first eight months on the job, according to one study, the average call centre worker packs on about 6kgs. It doesn’t matter if there’s a gym on site, if they’re male or female – big weight gains are part of the deal. They’re hardly alone, if you’re a New Zealand worker, chances are you spend most of your day sitting down.
How did we get here? 100 years ago in New Zealand, 50% of the work force was involved in primary agricultural production... now it’s 2% of our work force. Clearly, the computer has a lot to do with it. It’s created whole industries, felled others, and transformed most of the rest. Where we used to bang fence posts in, now we tap keys. Even office jobs before the digital age used to be more active, from physically filing stuff to getting up and talking to people. Throw in how we get around – in cars – and what we do with our leisure time – above all else watch TV and it’s easy to see how the experts say some people are sitting down for 16 hours a day.
Weight gain is just one problem that’s been associated with excessive sitting. The list of others is long: heart problems, diabetes, metabolic syndromes, dangerous blood clots and some musculoskeletal conditions, including spinal deterioration. To put it bluntly, as David Dunstan does, “people who are high sitters have increased risk of premature death”. The sitting epidemic has been compared to awareness of the dangers of sun damage 20 years ago. One American expert goes further calling sitting “the new smoking”.
The effect of inactivity on your spine can be pronounced over a long period, especially when you add the effect of injuries. Moving the spine helps you recover from injuries and prevent them in the first place. However, if you are sitting all day, following an injury, you can prolong the recovery and have more chance of developing a chronic problem. That is why chiropractors try to ‘adjust’ the spine as soon as possible following an injury, to get it moving properly.