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Sitting Well
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We are becoming a nation of sitters. In our advanced age of technology, more people are working at desk jobs and sitting for extended periods of time. Sitting with poor posture for hours actually has risks associated with back pain, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Sitting poorly can also affect your mental health. Slouching doesn’t just hurt your back, it can impact your head.

There are basic tips for sitting well. The obvious one is to sit up straight. An erect posture (not ramrod tight, which is uncomfortable) means lifting your head toward the ceiling and holding your shoulder blades slightly back toward your chair. Your legs should be comfortably at a 90 degree angle with your feet flat on the floor. It might be necessary to put a pillow or small cushion behind your lower back for support.

If you work at a desk all day, take short breaks from sitting. Every 20 minutes or so get up and walk around. Do moderate stretching of your neck and back muscles. Some people stand at their desks when they get a phone call. (There are actually specialty desks and workstations built to work at while standing.) Moving your muscles, circulating your blood, and taking some deep breaths will both strengthen your body and clear your mind.

Helps Emotionally

Did you know that sitting up straight also can help you emotionally? Scott Wiltermuth, assistant professor of management organization at the USC Marshall School of Business discovered this in a research project:

The study, “It Hurts When I Do This (or You Do That)” published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, found that by simply adopting more dominant poses, people feel more powerful, in control and able to tolerate more distress. Out of the individuals studied, those who used the most dominant posture were able to comfortably handle more pain than those assigned a more neutral or submissive stance.1

Wiltermuth and his associates even found that when people slouch when talking with another person, they not only have a lower threshold for pain, but feel like they have less control over circumstances. Sitting or standing straight helps a person feel more in control and can even increase the level of testosterone in your body which helps one increase their pain tolerance and lower their stress.

Many people sit for up to 14 hours a day. That translates into about 36 years of our lives just sitting. (See Tim Hutchful, British Chiropractic Association.) With so much of our lives at desks in front of computers or on couches and chairs in front of television sets, we owe it to our bodies to sit up. It will help us not only feel better, but think better!

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By Curtis Rittenour. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

1 http://www.medindia.net/news/Sitting-Erect-Pushing-Chest-Out-Can-Make-You-Stronger-87656-1.htm

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