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The hazards of sitting

Issue 31 Synovium (Autumn 2010)

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Taking the notion of the risks of inactivity up quite a few notches, an editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine1 proposes a new hazardous activity – sitting. Again the usual metabolic and vascular diseases are described as strongly associated with prolonged sitting and the impact on the spine and peripheral joints goes unmentioned – but we know how important this is. We know for example that the pressure in the intervertebral disc is increased by 50% in sitting postures compared with standing. The physiological impact of sitting and a small but consistent body of evidence are mentioned to support the notion that doctors should be advising their patients of the health risks of ‘prolonged sitting’. Should the advice to ‘always consult a physician before taking up exercise’ be changed to reflect this new hazard?

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