Sitting is becoming the new smoking as far the negative effects it has on the body. The human body wants to be efficient and it wants to survive. Because of this, it gives us an innate ability to adapt to any and all circumstances, good or bad. As a product of this adaptivity, the more we move in a certain way, the more our bodies will adapt to that movement thus allowing for more efficient movement. This is called the Law of Repetitive Motion. So on the plus side, this allows for movement to become easier. On the negative side, we can literally grow into these motions.
The Law of Repetitive Motion can be expressed in an equation, I=NF/AR , which means Injuriesequals the number of repetitions multiplied by the frequency of those repetitions, divided by the amplitude of each repetition times the rest interval. What does this mean exactly? The more you do something, the more repetitive stress you place on your body, the more likely you will be to develop an injury. "If you don't use it, you lose it."
The negative effects of this constant seated posture are discussed and shown in this great article from the Washington Post. Some of the highlights:
- rounded thoracic and lumber spine
- weaken lower back
- short and tight hip flexors
- glute disfunction
- poor shoulder health
Back in the former Soviet Union, factory workers were given breaks during their shifts to perform exercises to counter the repetitive motions from their jobs. A law was passed in California in 1996 granting injured workers special training to alter their work routines.
The negative effects from these repetitive motions can be countered however, with activities that oppose these poor repetitive motions as well the use of strength exercise for the agonist muscles (muscles that cause the movement) and the antagonist muscles. (muscles that oppose the actions)
Moral of the story...get off of your butt and workout!