The Lie of Perfect Posture

One of the interesting things I find interesting about practicing massage therapy in downtown Vancouver is the confessions.

Frequently new clients volunteer sheepishly that the physical issue they are seeking treatment for is probably the product of their poor posture.

However, from my perspective as a Vancouver massage therapist of 16 years, there is something people do all the time that is considerably worse for them than slouching.
And there is something even more important than sitting up straight.

Recently researchers at Cornell University published a study that says that sitting, even with good posture, is not good for you, and that if you sit for your job you need to get up and move every 20 – 30 minutes.

The study found that breaking up periods of sitting was even more important to health than cardiovascular exercise.

To say that again a different way: the study found that people who move frequently during the day and break up their sitting periods at work with simple, non-athletic movements but don’t exercise regularly are, long term, in better health than people who sit without break and then go do an hour of cardio every day.

The reason lies in the profound effect that sitting has on metabolism. Basically, once you’ve sat for an hour straight, your metabolism slows down considerably.
Hormone levels change. Certain types of chemicals that promote weight gain and inflammation increase. And 8 hours a day of that ‘fat programming’ cannot be erased by 45 minutes of cardio.

These results are probably going to be hard for a lot of people to accept; it seems counter-intuitive that a committed gym-goer but who is glued to their chair all day could actually be in worse shape in the long run than the person who strolls around the office all day but shuns regular exercise.

The link is here.

I want to emphasize that this movement, can be any movement – it doesn’t have to be stretching or exercises or yoga, it can be a trip to the bathroom or your co-worker’s desk to drop off a document.

So if you can only remember to do one thing while you’re at your desk, remember to get up and move. Every 20 minutes if you can. It has the biggest payoff of anything you can do.
And that’s not all…
I’m going to talk more in another post about the metabolic and mechanical effects of sitting, (including why people slouch so much) and how to reduce the damage, in another post.

Teri Babcock, B.Sc. Registered Massage Therapist

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