Today's headline on NPR's health page, Sit More, And You're Likely To Be Disabled After Age 60, reminded me of my own post on July 23, 2013, Our bodies are meant to move, not sit for hours. In that post I shared an article out of the Rocky Mountain Health Newsletter which mentioned the benefit of sitting less in terms of "reduced waist circumference, insulin resistance and inflammation", but I was not aware of the dangers that too much sitting can pose for the elderly. The NPR article reports on a study at Northwestern University that states that "for people 60 and older, each additional hour a day spent sitting increases the risk of becoming physically disabled by about 50 percent — no matter how much exercise they get." Wow!
One of the problems of sitting too much is that our circulation slows down and becomes sluggish. When less blood flow reaches our tissues, more metabolic waste accumulates and less nutrients and oxygen go into the tissue. Also, muscles are designed to move and be active, and with too much sitting they become stiffer and while some shorten, others are chronically overstretched. Not only does this create pain, but when we remain in the same posture for long periods of time, the connective tissue surrounding each muscle becomes less subtle and ends up locking down on muscle tissue. It's as if we become 'encased' in our postures. To soften up the connective tissue to allow the muscle underneath to move more freely again, may require external manipulation. Techniques such as myofascial massage, cupping or acupuncture will help stretch and open the connective tissue again, but since prevention is always the best medicine, let's rather get more active and prevent the problem in the first place.