By Dr. Ira Shapiro, Director, Plaza Chiropractic Center, Old Bridge, NJ
The weather has finally warmed and summer is now well underway.
However, with more than 10 million sports-related injuries every year, adults of all ages, teens and children alike must be aware of the possible complications that accompany poor conditioning and a winter of sitting and eating.
The truth is that your body, no matter the age, is not designed for long periods of inactivity. Prolonged sitting will not only weaken core muscles and decrease flexibility, it will also place a greater amount of stress on the back as it works harder to overcome the inability of the hips, knees and ankles to carry their fair share of the activity load.
In a recent Popular Mechanics article, the publication even referred to sitting as “the new smoking.” This is because too much chair time can lead to a host of problems that most wise people should avoid. During long, uninterrupted sessions on the derriere, muscles burn less fat, while blood flows less freely throughout the body. This can lead to an excessive build up of fluid in the legs, reduced brain function, higher cholesterol and blood pressure rates, general soreness throughout the extremities and a whole array of other problems ranging from expanded waistlines to diabetes and heart disease. Plus, inactive people tend to eat more. Regrettably, the couch, television and hunger are all often intertwined.
But, even if you have the most demanding desk job or suffer from an assortment of physical ailments, there are numerous things you can still do, safely and effectively, to start towards the path of better wellness and physical fitness. First of all, take frequent breaks. Ideally, this means standing up and taking a brief walk every 30 minutes to an hour. For enhanced results, take a trip to the water cooler or make a cup of green tea. And remember, since coffee and caffeinated sodas often cause dehydration, you will actually need at least one cup of water for every glass of coffee and water to counteract their effects.
Next, try doing some general stretching and conditioning exercises right at the desk or in your chair throughout the course of the day. Invest in a stress ball. They are not only available in numerous shapes and sizes, including cute animal figures, these very simple toys offer an excellent method for strengthening arms, forearms, wrists and hands as well as relieving the tension that is part of most of our days. Other basic and yet effective exercises to do in front of the computer or spreadsheet as well as in the confines of your favorite chair include:
- Alternately rolling your ankles, wrists and shoulders10 times every few hours;
- Contracting your abdominal and gluteal muscles and holding firmly for several seconds;
- Lifting up your legs on the balls of your feet while sitting to stretch calves and help prevent the formation of blood clots;
- Sitting on a stability ball with your back straight and abs firm to burn calories, while building core stability;
- Taking a a seated position with your back against the wall and holding for 15 to 30 seconds or even longer to burn calories and strengthen the legs and back;
- Standing shoulder width apart, pressing onto tippy toes and holding the position for several seconds for 12 – 15 repetitions;
- Placing a ream of paper between your legs and squeezing.
The point is there are hundreds of exercises just like these that can be done simply and easily from your favorite chair or in the office without anyone even knowing your working out. The key is to finding the time and will to develop a daily system that works best for you and blends nicely into your everyday routine.
And of course, when in doubt seek certified medical advice from a qualified professional. For more information on obtaining a better, fitter life please contact the Plaza Chiropractic Center at 732-723-0023 or visit www.plazachiro.com. Our trained staff will be happy to work with you, no matter your age or condition, to develop a safe and effective wellness program that complements your life style and offers long-lasting fitness rewards.
# # #
Dr. Ira Shapiro has been director of the Plaza Chiropractic Center located in Old Bridge, New Jersey since 1984. He is a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic medical staff and the winner of numerous professional awards and distinctions. In 2006, he was named the Sports Doctor of the Year by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) Council on Sports Injuries & Physical Fitness and received a Special Service Award from the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors (ANJC). During that same year, he also received honors from both the township of Old Bridge, New Jersey and the state of New Jersey for his long-term commitment to chiropractics excellence.