Does Practicing Yoga Counteract the Effects of Sitting All Day?

The myth: Yoga counteracts the physical damage caused by sitting all day. True or false? Mike Dawson has the answer.

Businessman stretching in an office --- Image by © SuperStock/Corbis

Credit: Corbis

According to several studies, most professionals sit an average of nine and a half hours a day. It almost sounds like a low figure, right? We young guns are probably locked in for far longer. Start with at least nine hours at work, then add the commute, the restaurant, the bar, the couch . . . how many is that? Point is, you sit a lot. And your body isn't really designed for it— if you're sitting in an ergonomic Herman Miller.

Parking your rear for that long can jack up your back and make you fat. But it may also kill you. According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, those who sit for six hours a day are twice as likely to die within 15 years as compared to those who sit for only about three hours a day.

You're now imagining some lard-ass who's smoking, eating Burger King, and sucking down giant sodas on the couch while watching a Storage Wars marathon. Well, don't. We're also talking about you. Yes, you: the guy who hits the gym and the yoga studio regularly. The back pains are the just the beginning of the premature demise that may be headed your way if you're not careful.

That's because the damaging effects of sitting for long periods of time can't be fixed. Not by an advanced Bikram class, or a long run, or a weight-lifting session, or a swim. Nothing. It's practically irreversible. Riding that office chair literally changes your back's metabolic makeup, so it affects those who work out and those who pig-and-veg out equally.

Bummer. But all hope is not lost. There is a simple solution you've likely heard but never heeded: Break up your sit-down sessions and get up at least once an hour for a few minutes (set a reminder alarm if need be). You already know that taking quick strolls around the office is good for your eyes, relieves stress, boosts creativity, and fires up your metabolism. Well, it just may save your life, too. See you at the water cooler.

— Dawson

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