What are the consequences of sitting too much?


Over the last few blogs I have focused on writing a blog based upon a scientific journal with some great findings.  Today, I want to talk about a topic that is starting to concern me deeply as a Sports Physiotherapist. 


We live in a sedentary world.  We drive to work, we sit as we watch TV, we usually sit at work and at school.  Obesity is on the rise and daily movement is on the down.  We are sitting way too much.   The consequences of this are far reaching from tightening your hip flexors, to weakening your butt or glute muscles, rounding our backs and shoulders to reducing your hip and lower back mobility, yet alone the cardiovascular ramifications. On a daily basis I see the ramifications of athletes training hard then sitting for hours on end and wonder why as the run, they can’t activate their glutes or move properly.



How do we change this?  We need to move more and more often.  From an evolutionary point of view, we have been hunting and gathering for our food for thousands of years just to survive.  We literally had to find where our next meal was coming from. Today we click a button or get our shopping delivered online.  This has increased our time available and for many of us that is school and work, where we sit.  When we were hunters and gatherers the movement shaped our bodies in a positive way.  Our bodies are built for movement and in turn movement keeps our bodies healthy. Fast forward to the present day and in a relatively short period of time we have come completely sedentary. Some are even calling prolonged sitting the new smoking and perhaps it is.  By no means am I saying the sitting is the cause of all evil.  I am just saying that like many things in life moderation is the key and I feel that for many of us we go too far.  Have we got a choice?  What can we control?


I want to focus this blog on a few take home messages to help you out.  Firstly, you need to try to attempt to reduce optional sitting in your life.  If you drive to work and it is a non-negotiable then you simply can’t change this, however work is normally the biggest option for change.  Switch to a standing desk if you can.  Like anything new you need to progress this gradually.  Many people need to learn to switch their glute or butt muscles on in this position as well as open their hips and lower back to deal with the demands of prolonged standing.  I advise seeing a professional about this to address the mobility and motor control concerns as you build this up.  Most people can add an extra hour of standing every week to their work day.  So, in the first week start with an hour a day and build to two hours by the second week a day and within two months you are close to a full working day.  However, I recommend a mixture between the two, you don’t need to be standing the whole time.  Moderation is the key word here yet again!


If sitting is a non-negotiable for you at work, then you need to move and walk around and have a routine of 3-4 simple exercises that take a total of 2 minutes to do every 30-45 minutes. Setting an alarm on your phone is great for this.  Additionally, you need to know what stretches and exercises to do to help keep your glutes working, loosen your hip flexors, hamstrings, hips and lower back and try to do this for 10-15 minutes most days if you have no choice but to sit. 


The consequences of avoiding this will lead to your body adapting to the position of sitting, which is detrimental to running and many sport related movement patterns.


If you want any further details on this topic please feel free to email me on ross@freedomsm.com.au  Happy movement and standing where possible.


Blessings RK.

Ross Kinsella