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Workplace health: Sitting is the new smoking.

Excessive sitting can be a hazard to your spinal health. If you think about your day, we sit for breakfast, sit in the car to drive to work, sit in front of the workplace computer, sit for meetings then sit for the commute home before sitting down to relax and watch tv at night. James Levine describes this as:

Our bodies are simply not designed or built to sit all day. Think of it as having a really expensive sports car running idle all day in the garage, the engine gets all gunked up and this is what happens to our bodies when we sit all day.

How does sitting for long periods affect your body?

Atrophy of large leg and gluteal muscles, can weaken and waste away. These large muscles are important for walking and stabilisation. If these muscles are weak you are more likely to injure yourself from falls, and from strains when you do exercise.

Dr James Levine, is the director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Solutions Initiative and is credited with coining that mantra – “sitting is the new smoking”. Levine has been studying the adverse effects of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles for years and has summed up his findings in two sentences. Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people then HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.

Sitting causes your hip flexor muscles to shorten, which can lead to problems with your hip joints.Sitting for long periods can also cause problems with your back, especially if you consistently sit with poor posture or don’t use an ergonomically designed chair or workstation. Poor posture may also cause poor spine health such as compression in the discs in your spine, leading to premature degeneration, which can be very painful.

Being hunched over a computer screen can lead to pain and stiffness in your neck and shoulders.


Some ways you can incorporate activity into your day are:

  • Walk or cycle, and leave the car at home.
  • Use the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Get off the bus one stop early and walk the rest of the way.
  • Park further away from wherever you’re going and walk the rest of the way.
  • Walk over and talk to your colleagues instead of emailing them.
  • Take your lunch break away from your desk and enjoy a short walk outside if you can.
  • Organise walking meetings.
  • Ask for a standing desk at work or invest in one if you work from home.


How can we help?

As a local Chiropractor in Newcastle we are experienced at assessing, diagnosing, and treating neck pain and low back pain. These conditions are often associated with a sedentary lifestyle and need to be managed.


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