Sitting Isn’t Bad: Biology Is Dose Dependent

November 11, 2016

“The brain appears to be designed to solve problems related to surviving in an unstable outdoor environment, and to do so in nearly constant motion. ”
― John Medina

That doesn’t sound like sitting to me.

The human body adapts to its environment and tissues conform to lines of stress. That’s its job. And it never stops working.

The ailments we contribute to sitting such as tight hips, sore necks, stiff backs, etc., are actually highly functional. Say what? Yes, they are put there by the body in an attempt to survive and adapt to the environment. An attempt to minimize damage.

Sounds counterintuitive right?

It doesn’t feel good when we get these ailments, however your body could care less if ya feel good, it just doesn’t want to be dead. Top priority is life. Quality life isn’t guaranteed. You must take responsibility for the way you choose to live it.

The current trend is to slam sitting as a contributing factor to pain and discomfort. The catchphrase ‘sitting is the new smoking’ is making the rounds. However, I contend that sitting itself is not bad. It’s simply another motion (or lack thereof) that you do throughout the day. We need to look at the dosages of your sitting.


How long you do it, how often you do it, and how you choose to do it.

If you remain in any position for too long it’s going to be detrimental. Standing in one place for 8-hours is just as dysfunctional as sitting on your ass for 8-hours. It’s the constant of the position that matters. Biology simply adapts to whatever you throw at it.

Muscles change what they do, how they do it and when they do it based on the environment. Dosage is about keeping yourself moving often and in different patterns. Variability, variety, and variation are critical to the cake mix of movement efficiency.

It’s not just about moving more, but moving more of yourself.

“If you wanted to create an education environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a classroom. If you wanted to create a business environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a cubicle. And if you wanted to change things, you might have to tear down both and start over.”
― John Medina

Here are a few simple suggestions to help you with the how of sitting.

How long? Your brain starts to turn off after about 10 minutes of doing the same shit. It gets bored quick, fast and in a hurry. We don’t pay attention to boring things. Sitting is boring. You literally start to lose your brain connections. When your brain starts to turn off the body turns off.

I suggest you stand up and move every 30 minutes. It’s not easy, but neither is getting sick and tired. Perhaps try sitting in different types of chairs. That will change the load on your body and can make a positive change. Make changes at home too. Stop sitting on the same coach. Pick a different one, or better yet go to the ground.

How to sit? Well that depends on what you are sitting on 🙂 The biggest thing to watch for is the posterior tilt. You naturally fall into a posterior pelvic tilt when sitting, so you must become cognizant of how to reduce the amount of tilt and how it impacts your body. What is a posterior pelvic tilt. Sit and then slump. There ya go! Your back actually flattens and the hips move forward. Alleviate the amount of posterior tilt by adding support to the small of your back. Lumbar support. Rolled up towel anyone?

How often? Hells bells, that’s an easy one, the least amount possible. I suggest spending more time down on the ground. You probably don’t spend any right now, at least not on purpose. That should change NOW. You’ll immediately feel a difference in your body. Try staying in one position for a long time on the ground. That won’t happen.

It’s just that simple.

What’s a key takeaway?

Don’t blame sitting for your body woes. Sitting is another pattern like any other. Too much of any movement pattern is not good. The constant and continuous use of a single position will wear you out, no matter how good it’s supposed to be for your body. Get the right dose and all will be well in the movement system. Spice it up.

Stay Strong,