Do you lead an active lifestyle? Sure, you go to the gym or take a walk every evening. But did you drive to work or school this morning? Then sit at a desk all day? Come home to watch TV or relax on the couch? Sit in a movie for 2+ hours? Do you online bank and shop, direct deposit, and other things to avoid running errands?

Your lifestyle is probably more sedentary than you think. And as you may suspect, all that sitting is not good for your back, or for your overall health. Sitting is also probably not what we were meant to do.

“For the vast majority of our evolutionary history, we’ve had to exert ourselves—often quite strenuously—to get food, find shelter and simply survive,” said author Chris Kessler. “We naturally spent a lot of time outdoors in the sun, walking, hunting, gathering and performing various other physically-oriented tasks.”

Becoming more and more sedentary has happened to us over time. And although we are accustomed to it, health risks still occur. Sitting too much is linked to obesity and heart disease. A British study found that sitting for prolonged periods of time increases the risk of all manner of diseases, including metabolic disease that is a precursor to diabetes. People are especially at risk if they sit all day and do not exercise at all.

Sitting all day can wreak havoc on your back and spine as well. Many people have experienced the lower back pain that comes after sitting for too long. Our spines are a column, and they are designed to hold weight in a neutral position. This S-shaped position happens naturally when we are standing. But sitting for a long time means the spine is not in this natural position.

If you picture your spine as a column, you can see that sitting upright puts pressure on the lower part of the spine. Sitting for a long time probably does not cause a major back injury, but it can cause back pain and exacerbate existing injuries or pain. A lot of this goes back to having the correct posture, even when sitting.

You may be wondering what can be done to combat the constant sitting. It all comes down to making small lifestyle changes—it is not all about exercise. It is still important to exercise and maintain a good fitness level but these small tips can help your health and your back:

  • Try to get up and walk around about once every hour if you sit at a desk all day.
  • Drive less—walk over to the drugstore, or walk to your friend’s house.
  • Park further away—do you really need the closest spot in the shopping center?
  • Try a standing desk.
  • Take the stairs—not the elevator.
  • Alternate sitting and standing—if you do have to sit all day, try to stand up anytime you take a phone call, or walk over to a coworker’s desk rather than send them an email or instant message.

It is important to your health that you lead an active lifestyle. This could mean even the smallest adjustments, as outlined above. Lower back pain is one of the leading causes of disability and missing work. If you are experiencing lower back pain, try lifestyle modifications and light exercise to help you. If you are still experiencing back pain after making these adjustments, contact us. Or call our dedicated Medical Concierge at 800-890-1964.