As we become a more technologically advanced society, we inherently become a more sedentary society. Things we used to have to do to live (hunt, gather, fetch water, scrub clothes with a washboard) are all done for us by others or by machines. This gives us much more time to use our brains and further advance society, instead of spending all day lifting and toting, walking and climbing.
There are obviously still people that have “labor” type jobs. They work physically hard all day long and that helps keep them in shape…but what about the rest of the “desk jockeys” out there? The majority of jobs today are sedentary. You sit for 45 minutes on your commute to work, you sit for 8 hours at your desk, you sit for another 45 minutes on your way home. Then you sit for dinner and after dinner you “relax” by sitting to watch television or log onto your tablet…and sit.
This trend of being sedentary is just horrible for general fitness. Sure there are plenty of people that do actually hit the gym or do some type of regular exercise to combat all this sitting, but they are not in the majority. The average person is not exercising regularly and they don’t have hobbies that get them moving. People have to find simple ways to get some more activity in their lives…take the stairs, walk to a store instead of drive, do an exercise video a few times a week in your living room instead of sitting down and watching the television. As a matter of fact, a pretty high percentage of the people we treat in physical therapy could have avoided treatment if they had just exercised regularly in the first place.
Standing desks are becoming very popular right now…something to combat all the sitting. I think it’s great…except for the fact that if you are moving to a standing desk after a few years of sitting in your cube for 8 hours a day, you won’t be in good enough shape to survive your first day! You will actually get soreness in your legs, your back, your neck…all of your postural muscles from doing nothing other than just standing during the day…crazy, right?? But it’s true…you will actually have to build up slowly to your standing desk and get used to using muscles you haven’t used in years.
So, before you have to enroll in an “intense standing class”, find ways everyday to exercise. It doesn’t have to be formal…it doesn’t have to be at a gym. It doesn’t take any equipment to do some squats, jumping jacks, push ups or sit ups. You can take the stairs ALL the time instead of the elevator. Park far away when you go to the store and get some more distance in when walking.
I am sure that farmers from yesteryear are laughing at us from “up above” every time we go to a “Pick Your Own” farm and PAY to pick food…something they did everyday to survive. So let’s not continue down a road where someday we will be paying a personal trainer to lead us through an “intense standing program”.
Michael Vacon, PT