I am an artist and website designer which has brought me to sitting much more than I would like to. Over the years I have worked as a graphic designer, website designer, teacher and an artist. I have spent a large portion of my life sitting in a chair rather than moving my body as a nurse, construction worker or firefighter would do in their job.

We sit when we watch tv, commuting to and from a location and when we eat out at a restaurant.

Many artists that I know sit while painting, drawing, creating digital art, tattoos, fashion designers, pottery, making jewelry, scrapbooking, etc. They spend most of their day sitting. Sure, they get up to do a few things such eat lunch, go to the bathroom or take a phone call, but the majority of the time is spent sitting. Of course, there are other artists who paint standing up while working at their easels but standing too long without proper exercise can also be detrimental as well.

 

What Are The Dangers Of Sitting Too Long?

To be honest, I never really thought about the dangers of sitting too long until recent years.

Dr. Mercola says:
"Mounting research now suggests that sitting in and of itself is an independent risk factor for poor health and premature death—even if you exercise regularly."

What he means by this is that even if you worked out at the gym a few times a week for an hour is not going to counteract hours of chronic uninterrupted sitting.

Dr. Vernikos says:
“We are not designed to sit continuously. We are not designed to be in quasi-microgravity... It’s not how many hours of sitting that's bad for you; it’s how often you interrupt that sitting that is GOOD for you!”

Did you know that sitting is considered as the new smoking and that it can increase lung cancer by over 50 per cent? Sitting too long is more dangerous than 2nd hand smoking! It can also increase your chances of getting uterine cancer (66%) and colon cancer (30%).

In a recent study published by Annals of Internal Medicine  it was found that excessive sitting can correlate to a 20 per cent increased risk for cancer, heart disease and premature mortality. The increased risk of developing diabetes can be as high as 90 per cent!!

 

My Personal Experience

Being that I am also a website designer, about 4 years ago I decided I was going to stand at my computer instead of sit all day. I designed my desk so that my computer was eye level and my hands could easily type on the keyboard without bending my wrists (I have carpal tunnel syndrome).

stand-up-desk

Yes, this is a baby's change table! Works great if I didn't seem to stand so long too.

Well, that may have lasted for a couple of months or so as I was getting lower back aches from standing too long! I guess I was still not getting it. I always found it so hard to interrupt my work and walk away from it every so often to get my body moving. So I gave that up after we moved to our new house a short time after.

I can't say that I am in perfect health. I have a couple health problems. Osteoporosis to name one. I can see how the lack of exercise can be one of the causes of this too. I have also gained a few pounds here and there too. And as I approach the big 5-0 in a couple of years I am tending to think about how much time I will have since the majority of my life has now passed.


It's Never Too Late, Right?

So What Can We Do About Sitting Too Long?

  • Try to reduce the amount of sitting by keeping track of how much you're sitting each day. Slowly try to reduce the time sitting and begin standing up more and exercising.  Walk around, do some squats, or just move those limbs! The seated position forces the flexors of the hip and the internal shoulder rotators to be come tight and shortened so get moving!
  • When watching tv, take frequent breaks to walk around the room. You can still enjoy watching your program while standing - do some exercises and get those limbs moving.
  • Get an exercise ball. These help to engage your core muscles and also helps to improve balance and flexibility. You will also burn some calories!
  • Cut back on tv and computer time - get outside! Take your dog for a walk, hike, play a sport, swim or ride your bike. Get moving!
  • Try standing at an easel rather than sitting at a drafting table.
  • Create a standing table so you can stand while working on your artwork or craft.


There's an App for that!

Yes, there is an app for that! Just last week I found out there was an app to help remind us to get up and get moving. You may think that we are disciplined enough to remind ourselves to stand up from sitting but we aren't. We tend to be always in the 'middle' of something important and will hold it off until we are finished....3 hours later!

So you may want to check out this app called Stand Up!  You can set up your work day for specific times (eg. 9am - 5pm) and have it remind you every 30, 60 or 90 minutes. I have my set on the 30 minutes and I can tell you those minutes sure fly by fast! It's as though I just sat down! I get up and walk around, do some squats, move all my limbs around and do some bends.

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Well, time to take a another break!

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About the Author:

Melissa Schatzmann is a pencil realist artist. and has taught children and adults how to draw for the past 17 years. As well, she has designed Canada’s first online drawing and coloured pencil courses being offered through Continuing Education in Community Colleges. These courses are now in thirteen Ontario Colleges.

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