The excesses of eating, drinking & lounging aka Christmas are now but days away (and well done if you manage to avoid any of these) so I thought I’d consider our likely increased screen-time over the holiday period and what we can all do about this.
I’d guess this is likely for many of us and in truth the upcoming holidays are just an excuse for me to write about:
and what we can ALL – adults & children – do to help counteract these and leave us sitting(!) more comfortably.
Increased use of screens appears to be inevitable for most of us and though our survival and progress in the modern world is largely reliant upon us spending more time on screens, our physical bodies – and minds – have yet to adjust.
One of the most common assumptions I hear about peoples back or neck pain is that it’s related to their sitting posture and indeed, as a physiotherapist, a common concern is parent’s worry that their child’s health will deteriorate due to time spent staring at a screen.
And as a parent and a screen user, I am certainly not immune to this concern:
There are definite links between too much time spent sitting and reduced physical and mental health (here, here & here). In children, the evidence relating to small screens is sketchy – mobile phone and tablet “postures” are still relatively new though there is some evidence linking screen use with increased neck and back pain and repetitive-strain type issues (RSI) in adolescents.
But for children and adults alike, sitting per se does not correspond with back pain or other problems.
What the evidence does suggest and with which my experience concurs is that any current and future physical problems for an individual will most likely be related to:
So rather than berate yourself or your kids for a terrible sitting position, you can instead:
How often? The more often the better! At least every 10-15 minutes. Become a fidget. An app might help.
And what do I mean by a change of posture?
Leap around for 30 seconds or do a couple of the following moves:
I am targeting a wide range of ages with these suggestions! Not that age need be a barrier to doing a handstand…
This study which links sitting with risk of earlier death – cheery – suggests that eight hours sitting per day can be counteracted with an hour of exercise per day.
But remember that this is just to cancel out the effect of the sitting and arguably doesn’t contribute to the fact that we really should be exercising more anyway, regardless of how much time we spend sat down. Children need:
And dare I suggest that, as these numbers are based on some very bland national guidelines and as a physiotherapist, we really should be doing more!
Yes it can be a drag getting your children or yourself to raise heart rates and get out of breath but the physical and mental benefits of doing so are myriad, as I’ve written about before and as deep down, you probably know 🙂
One of the easiest ways to do this is make exercise a part of your life. When you build even a tiny bit of exercise into your day, a walk or bike – or run! – to school, to Gran’s, to work, for the dog or just to somewhere that’s perceived necessary, it can be far easier to accommodate.
Anyone like a flowchart? The ‘Five Steps’ towards moving more: