Are you STILL sitting?

I thought that it would be easy meeting my blogging schedule with a newborn because don’t they sleep a lot?

Turns out, not so much.

And it also turns out that I have too many subscribers to this blog – it no longer can email notifications of posts to you because it crashes the email system.

Go me.

Also, in other news, I found my first gray hair. Thirty five years with nothing. Six weeks of sleep deprivation and hello Bea Arthur. I didn’t pluck it. And not just because I didn’t want 3 more to come to its funeral (is that even true?) but because my eyes no longer focus well enough to find it in the mirror.

While I’m not blogging as often as I like, I do make it to our FaceBook page often to interact and answer Q and A. Come join us if you can. It was on FB that someone posted an infographic called “Sitting is Killing You.”
My thoughts (please mail penny to my home address):

I agree 100% with the statement “sitting is killing you” but I would say the reason why sitting is harmful is not what they have listed and the solution (jumping jacks in place and putting your chair back into a reclining position) is not correct.
And, P.S. Sitting at 135 degrees is just as harmful as sitting at 90. The reason sitting is harmful HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BODY FAT, OBESITY, etc., which is why you see these diseases in people of all body masses great and small.
The link between sitting and cardiovascular disease has to do with the physics of how your blood flows through your arteries. Different types of flows promote different types of plaque accumulation.
Plaque accumulates NOT because of blood chemistry, but because of the action of the cells flowing within the blood vessels.
Normally, blood cells in the blood glide along down the blood vessels, like a ball rolling down a hallway. If that hallway has a turn in it, however, the ball will smack into the wall.
Blood cells do the same thing. A blood cell hitting the wall of an artery leaves a wound, which, just like a cut on your hand, needs to make a scab. Scabs in the arteries use cholesterol to seal the wound. Your cholesterol is not arbitrarily sticking to the walls of the vessels but is part of the healing mechanism your body has. That’s why high cholesterol isn’t the problem — it’s the wall wounding.
What causes the blood cells to smack into the walls of your blood vessels?
A couple of things. (There are actually more, but the physics is a bit more complex for this blog today.)
1. The type of blood flow you are creating. Blood flow can be turbulent (like turbulent air during a flight) or laminar, which is all of the blood smoothly flowing in the same direction.
Turbulent flow can take a blood cell and, instead of letting it flow straight through a vessel, can slam it up or down, into the wall.  BAM. Wall wound.
2. Blood vessel geometry.
The good news: Your arteries, where they are located and how they branch off, are arranged in a very specific way to maximize pressure gradients and keep flow smooth.
The bad news: Your artery geometry changes with your posture.
Adding twists and turns in the arteries by chronically bending joints for excessive bouts of time a day is like adding curves in your hallway. Rolling balls are guaranteed to smack into the walls in your home just as blood cells will run into the curves of the vessels…every time. This is why research shows that exercise doesn’t offset the affects of sitting. You can’t undo 8 hours of wounding with a run or with bigger muscles. Fitness doesn’t touch the wound that has been created.
We have made the entire science of cardiovascular disease about fat and cholesterol and chemistry when it is really about geometry.
You can try to cut out all the cholesterol out of your diet but that doesn’t keep the plaque from accumulating. You have to stop the WOUNDING, which means you have to fix the geometry.
Which means you have to fix your alignment.
I’m so boring saying that over and over again, right?
I go on and on about alignment but I don’t want you to think it’s about aesthetics, or appearance, or even the macro mechanics like muscle function and joint health. Even though it is about those things too. It’s really about the micro mechanics. The fact is, if you are not aligned correctly, you are creating damage on the cellular level.

And I know most of you care more about cardiovascular health in the long term, more than you care about your bunions.
And, P.P.S. Vigorous exercise (where your heart rate is up above 60%) can be just as harmful as sitting as it creates turbulent flow.
My three-point solution for starting a healthy-heart program is this:
  • Get a standing work station. You cannot justify sitting at work. You really can’t any longer.
  • Walk (don’t run!!!)  4-5 miles a day (not necessary to do it all at once and don’t do it on a treadmill.)
  • Fix the position of your bones via stretching your muscles.
The position of the bones changes the geometry of the blood vessels — when they’re not where they are supposed to be, you are sitting on a cardiovascular time bomb.
Yes, you can quote me on that.
In fact, please spread this quote around to everyone you love. And like. And the dude who delivers your pizza. Put it as your Face Book status, with a link to this blog, and we’ll see how long it takes to reach 25,000 people.

P.P.P.S. I think this 1000 word blog is worth more than one penny.

And (how many times have I started a sentence with “And” in this post?), to help you out, I am having a contest where you can submit a picture of your standing work station to get a chance to win one of my DVDs of your choice aaaand the coveted half dome. If you don’t know what a half dome is, it is the best piece of health equipment, ever, used for the best exercise for your health, ever, the Calf Stretch.

I’m not going back to edit that sentence. I’m leaving it for style purposes.

Below are a few examples of submissions. If you’ve got a pic to share, email it to katy@katysays.com. I’ll take them until June 1st.

Sorry the pics are so small. Now you know what it feels like to be me, squinting at my hair follicles.

More reading, if you are a huge nerd, have an extra $150.00, and have taken math up to differential equations (if not, it will be a waste of $): The Physics of Cerebrovascular Diseases, Biophysical Mechanisms of Development, Diagnosis and Therapy, by George Hademenos and Tarik Massoud.

Are you still interested in learning more on this?

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13 thoughts on “Are you STILL sitting?

  1. Each of the photos you posted of standing work stations are fairly neat and tidy. Hmmmm. Now I am more embarrassed about the picture I submitted.

  2. “don’t do it on a treadmill.” — Hmm. I can see some advantages to walking outside — sunshine and the varied terrain. But with all the snow we get, walking outside is often nearly impossible. Isn’t a treadmill better than nothing?

    1. Katie –
      It’s not about the fresh air and the terrain, although these are additional benefits. It’s about the gait pattern. Treadmills reverse the natural gait pattern, continuing the tense muscle patterns down the front of the body and shortening the posterior side. In order to fix the geometry at the arterial level, you have to push off (back) when you walk – something that the treadmill prevents.

      And then there is also all the pelvic floor, lumbar spine, hip and knee issues that come with a forward gait pattern of the treadmill too…

      1. What does the forward gait pattern of the treadmill do to the pelvic floor and lumbar spine? I used to walk as fast as I could on the treadmill, but don’t have one anymore. I have a prissy back and dealt with pelvic pain for about a year. Just curious. 🙂

        1. Paige — do a search on “treadmill” for a more in-depth explanation, but it reverses the gait pattern so you use the quads and hip flexors to walk instead of the hamstrings and butt — muscles used in natural gait. If anyone has a pelvic issue, I get them off of the treadmill ASAP. You need your butt muscles to hold your sacrum in place. Treadmill makes the glutes go BYE BYE 🙂

  3. Bravo. Simple, succinct info that puts me squarely in charge of my health. And provocative, to boot!
    Would snow shoeing or x-country skiing be a viable alternative for Katie, Katy?

  4. Thanks for your excellent blog! I teach spinning – just want to verify that raising the heart rate over 60% may cause more harm than good before I break the news to the participants. I live in a very active community where people enjoy exercising and getting their heart rate to 85%.

    1. Yep, recommendations for exercise to be beneficial for heart health, especially for those with and taking medication for hypertension are 40-60%. I’m going to do an intensity blog here shortly…

  5. Could you possibly make the above images available as small posters (8 1/2″ by 11″ for example) – I’d love to post these in my treatment room. They print off all in a row (no breaks) so you lose lots of good info. Thanks!

  6. Hi Katy,

    Varicose veins run in my family and I grew up hearing my mom and aunts telling me to SIT DOWN (and raise my legs if I can) while doing housework (preparing dinner, folding laundry, whatever). So I’m looking at these standing workstation pics in horror, imagining, were I to have one, all the varicose veins that will start creeping and crawling up my legs that night! 🙂 So my question — if I have proper alignment, I can stand for hours on end and varicose veins basically become a non issue? Yeah I know, my questions reflect my glaring ignorance, sorry :-/

    Also, I’m a few months postpartum and want to start exercising. I live in the desert and walking outside is impossible unless I want to turn into a lizard. Previously, I lost weight using the circuit training method (Jillian Michaels, etc). Would it be ok to continue in that way if I were to keep my heart rate moderate?

  7. Hi Katy,

    What is your opinion on people using stability ball chairs for hours a day at desks? I know that sitting anywhere on anything for hours per day at work is bad, but would one of those chairs be of any benefit or harm?

    Thanks,
    Emily

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