I ran into my friend Trey Lamont the other day. In addition to being a successful entrepreneur and a devoted father, Trey is a talented athlete whose accomplishments include multiple Washington-state tae kwon do championships.
I invited him to my book launch party (which was happening that night), and naturally he asked what the book was about. When I said that “Scared Sitless“ was about sitting disease and what to do about it, he told me about his brief foray into the IT world.
“I worked out that same before, during, and after that job,” he said, “But while I was in IT, my back was killing me. When I was sitting at that computer all day, I had aches and pains I’d never had before.” As soon as he left his desk job and resumed his normal active lifestyle, the pain subsided.
Trey’s story echoes the research findings that show that you can’t exercise your way out of sitting disease. Numerous scientific studies have shown that sedentary behavior is an independent risk factor for the cardiovascular and metabolic disease that ensues after prolonged bouts of sitting. In other words, no matter how much you exercise after work, if you sit all day you are still at increased risk for a heart attack or diabetes, independent of your active after-work lifestyle.
Similarly, while there is not much rigorous scientific evidence (yet) to support this hypothesis, I am convinced that the stationary, repetitive nature of desk work has a similar deleterious effect on our muscles and joints, independent of our activity after work.
Sitting, or even standing, in one position all day doing the same repetitive micro-motions throughout the day is likely affecting our musculoskeletal system in ways analogous to the cardiovascular and metabolic havoc wreaked by being inactive all day.
You don’t have to be a tae kwon do champion to experience this. In fact, it may be more of an issue for less physically active office workers. I am convinced that we are glimpsing this phenomenon in the “weekend warrior” sports injuries that I and other trainers and health-care practitioners see in our practices. The de-conditioning that comes with a sedentary work style offers a plausible explanation for many of the sprains and strains and other injuries that office workers sustain when they leap up from their desk and onto the softball or soccer field.
A P.S. For Seattle Folks
True confession time: I didn’t actually “run into” Trey. I had purposefully sought out his Papa Bois food truck. If you are among the many Seattleites who are despondent over the abrupt closure of Paseo’s Caribbean sandwich joint in Fremont, I can recommend Trey’s Papa Bois sandwiches as a worthy replacement.
Photo credit: alexkalina / 123RF Stock Photo