Sitting (even on a ball) is crappy for your health

Americans sit for about 9.3 hours EACH DAY. We sit at work, sit at home, sit while driving, sit while socializing, etc.

Sitting is horrible for us. Why? Let’s take a look at what happens when you sit.

  • Circulation is constricted (less blood flow to our tissues), then our brain hungers for blood and nutrients that are poorly circulated through our system.
  • Muscles are shut off (you’re relaxing and smashing your glutes)
  • Your posture goes to crap - your head is cranked forward, your shoulders are internally rotated, your spine is in flexion, you squint your eyes...your poor back is trying to hold on for dear life to stabilize your spine because you have LITERALLY shut your ass off from working.
  • Connective tissues get tight (creating stiffness, limiting your ROM and mobility)
  • Metabolism slows (you’re using less calories)

Bottom line: Sitting makes you more unhealthy, less fit and kills your metabolism.

You May think to yourself.. but wait! I workout out for 1 hour per day!! Unfortunately, that doesn’t cut it… NOT EVEN CLOSE.

So what is the solution?

LET’S SIT ON A BALL! That’ll “engage my core” more!

The theory about sitting on an exercise ball is that the ball provides you with an unstable surface… therefore you’ll be forced to “engage your core” and you’ll activate more muscles and unload your discs.

I have some bad news for you….

Studies have shown that spinal compression AND muscle activation is pretty much the same whether you’re sitting on a ball or sitting on a chair. At the end of the day, you’re still SITTING.

In fact, greater contact area on the ball compared to a well designed chair might encourage MORE soft tissue compression. (not good!)

Now… subjects DID move their trunks more on the ball than the chair. BUT! They also experienced MORE disc compression and trap activation (upper back and neck).

Moral of that story… sitting on a ball is still sitting. It could even make things WORSE for people with back issues.


What about your metabolism?

Not only does sitting negatively effect your musculoskeletal system, but it greatly effects your METABOLISM (how efficiently you USE your energy, AKA calories).

A study of 105 office workers showed that those who sat longer were 3x MORE likely to have a waist circumference larger than 37 inches for men and 31 inches for women.

*** Waist circumference is STRONGLY correlated to cardio-metabolic risk***

These same workers were also 9x more likely to have a BMI greater than 30 (this places them in the obese category). Now we all know that BMI doesn’t tell the entire story, but anytime you reach the obese category, something needs to change.

Each additional hour the workers sat led to larger waist circumference, higher insulin and lower HDL cholesterol --- that’s all bad news.

There are papers that suggest prolonged sitting should be considered a “distinct coronary heart disease risk.” You know what else is in that category? Smoking.

So what is the solution?


Get a stand up desk, ask if your employer will pay/help pay for one, get a prescription for a standup desk from a practitioner, contact your insurance provider… fight for one!!

This is your LIVELIHOOD we’re talking about here. 

When you stand at work, you...

  • Unload your discs (decrease spinal compression)
  • Activates muscles (creates stability to support your skeleton)
  • Create a better opportunity for good posture
  • Increase your metabolism (standing burns 1.36 calories/min. That’s 60 cals/hour. 8 hours of standing burns 500 calories or more per day!)

If it’s not possible for you to stand at work, you need to get up and move around as much as possible.

Set an alarm for yourself every 30-60mins. to walk around, stretch, do some air squats, get your hips moving, creating some blood flow and help circulation.

Working towards standing more often will greatly improve your quality of life. Taking it back to the basics of eating nutrient dense, quality foods, moving more, sitting less and exercising intelligently is exactly what we need as a nation to become healthier and happier.

We can help you with those steps. The hardest part is STARTING. Let us be your guide.

 Click here to get started at SPSC today.

-Nicole Race, Co-Owner of St. Pete Strength and Conditioning, home of SPSC Crossfit