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Standing for Our Health

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The average U.S. adult spends up to 10 hours a day sitting.  This is a habit viewed as a normal integral part of daily life with working at a desk job or commuting long hours.  We aren’t doing our bodies any favors by sitting so much as it contributes to rising rates of overweight and obesity, chronic disease and even sometimes premature death.

Kelly Starrett holds a Ph.D. in physical therapy and is the author of “Deskbound: Standing Up to a Sitting World.”  He is a leader in the CrossFit movement and stresses the importance of having proper body mechanics both in and outside the gym.  He addresses biomechanical inadequacies that might increase your risk of injury. Kelly and Juliet are a husband-and-wife team and experts on movement and how it can make or break your health.  Their venture, StandUpKids.org is the product of their own role as parents to improve the health of kids across the U.S. This venture began when they volunteered at their daughters’ school and were disturbed to see the kids were having a hard time with the sack race at field day.  

They believe that sitting too much at a desk all day leads to decreased functionality and affects a child’s cognition.  The children attempting the sack race had decreased functionality as a result of this excessive sitting. Since the beginning of their non-profit organization, they have given about 35,000 U.S. school kids access to standing desks in the classroom.  This change is not only physical in nature but is linked to better learning in the classroom and improved productivity at work. The muscle activity acts as a stimulus to keep the brain alert.

It’s all about moving more and listening to what your body is saying.  Giving up that chair seems overwhelming to think about, but it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition.  Think of other ways to move more and include sitting on the floor can have moving advantages over sitting in a more confined chair.  Standing up does take you out of sedentary mode and you will likely stretch, lean, bend and pace. All movement counts toward your daily activity.

After sitting for six, eight or 10 hours a day it may take some time to adjust to standing and moving more and won’t happen over night.  The average student in the U.S. spends 4.5 hours a day sitting at school and an additional 7 hours sitting in front of a screen. Therefore, 85% of their waking hours is spent sitting.

Standup Kids has partnered with a number of corporations, giving children the much-needed opportunity to move more in school by installing standing desks, complete with fidget bars. The University of California Berkeley and the local county public health department have partnered to try to get more research done. There has been concern about “forcing” kids to stand all day, but this isn’t about standing still for long hours.  They do have access to stools, should they want to use them, but the teachers are saying they rarely do.

Interventions can help you avoid chronic diseases and orthopedic problems as neck problems, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, carpal tunnel syndrome, knee problems, lower extremity problems, shoulder dysfunction, poor diaphragm function, low back pain, hernias, pelvic floor dysfunction and hip dysfunction.  Do any of these symptoms sound familiar to you? They do to me! With age comes most of the above.

Standing is not only good for children as a prevention method against poor health, but as adults we could learn a lot about standing to help our own bodies as well.  Many suffer from sitting-induced range-of-motion problems and might increase the risk of injury and compromise long-term athletic and movement abilities.

Dr Fredda Branyon

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