There have been quite a few articles and infographics (such as the one here) talking about how sitting is killing us. They all stem from an article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine earlier this month. Dr. David Alter from the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute reviewed 47 studies and came to some concerning conclusions. It seems that prolonged sitting can increase risk of death from a variety of diseases. It also found that a good workout at some point in the day doesn’t give us licence to sit around for the rest of the day.
This makes a lot of sense from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective. Blood Stagnation is one of a number of internal pathogens that lead to disease. At it’s most basic level blood stagnation or stasis is exactly what it sounds like – blood is not flowing. It is pretty easy to see that if you sit still for long periods of time blood will move sluggishly and have a tendency to pool in the legs (thanks gravity!). When we are up and moving around our muscles act as auxillary pumps that aid in pushing blood through the vessels and around the body. All of our cells require a constant supply of fresh oxygen and nutrients to stay healthy. When blood is sluggish the cells don’t receive this needed oxygen and nutrient flow and cellular metabolic waste isn’t removed efficiently either. Cells subjected to this less-than-optimal environment eventually become unable to do their job leading to disease.
Blood Stagnation as understood in TCM has been a potential contributing factor to the following list of illness:
pain, angina, atherosclerosis, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, dementia, diabetes, emphysema, headache, heart attack, obesity, cancer and stroke
Movement is health
The best thing you can do for your body is move. We weren’t designed to sit at a computer all day. Try to take short frequent breaks – even if it’s just standing up and doing a few stretches at your desk. Resist the urge to eat lunch at your desk. Walk down the hall to talk to a co-worker instead of sending an email or phoning. You will likely find the day passes faster and is more enjoyable.
If you are experiencing discomfort or symptoms of some of the above diseases visit your local TCM Doctor for some help and advice. We can help jump start your circulation with acupuncture and herbs and advise you on stretching and lifestyle changes that will reduce disease.