Small change could benefit you with more energy and less pain

Ergonomic seating is not a new concept, per se. It’s been around for several years now—long enough for users at work and in school, spine doctors. Chiropractors, and Pilates experts to tally their verdict. Non-traditional chairs such as exercise balls, stools, kneeling desks, and recliners are advantageous to the health of our spine, neck, lungs, and core. They have arrived and they are not leaving. That’s a good thing.

Think about a rolling desk chair with minimal cushion in the seat, a mid-length back, and a possible recline if you lean back. 30 years ago, a seat like that was heavenly compared to the old folding-type chairs used in cubicles.

And over the years, workers have suffered and complained of back and neck pain. As the sitter tends to pull his/her pelvis under, undue pressure is placed on discs—and for hours on end. As ergonomics has developed, so have fascinatingly simple, seat options.

Recently, the results of a new study on the benefits of standing desks was published. It basically said that, yes, too much sitting has adverse health affects, but it can’t yet be medically proven that standing all day is a great thing either. So in the interest of spreading the good word, we’ll stick to what we know is beneficial. Here are some tried-and-true newfangled-ish chairs to use at work or at school (if they’ll allow it.)

Basic Exercise Ball

You’ve seen these at the gym and you probably already have one. They’re rubbery, of course, round, and come in a few sizes. You want to be able to sit on the ball with your knees at a right angle, with both feet firm on the floor. This will engage your core.

If you’re under 5’4”, you’ll want a 55cm ball. A little taller, opt for the 65cm. And if you’re over 5’11”, get the 75cm. Tip: If every time you get up from your desk and the ball rolls away, pour sand inside and the weight will stabilize it.

Ergonomic Ball Chair

This is just like the regular exercise ball but it has little legs like a Dachshund. It won’t roll over or run away, and it’s still core beneficial. It encourages good posture; it’s tough to slouch on it, even if you try.

Kneeling Chair

You’re not really kneeling, it’s more like “shinning.” It’s a chair that angles you forward and your shins pick up some of your bodyweight and create stability. Your spine can relax because you’re tilted forward and any strain is removed.

Wobbly Stool

This is a fun ride. The bottom is actually rounded, letting you lean and tilt in any direction—without falling! It’s got no back, so it demands you sit-up straight, and the wobbliness forces your core muscles into action.

“Zero Gravity” Recliner

This is not the type of chair you can sway, wiggle, and bounce on. This seat option is for those who want relief from any pressure anywhere. The Zero Gravity recliner lays you back until most of your weight is distributed evenly throughout your body. Your feet raised slightly above your heart benefits your blood pressure.

Circulation is claimed to improve. Muscle, joint, and back pain is relieved while lying back. Some suggest the chair even relaxes the lungs, allowing for better breathing habits. This product is fabulous, but it’s also pricey. And really, it’ll be pretty tough to convince HR that you need to lie down in order to do your best work.

Many companies (massive and smaller) are investing in ergonomic seating for their employees as an investment. Good health and increased energy spells better productivity. Some schools are finding money in their budgets for alternative seating. Many students benefit physically, but also mentally.

If you’re boss gets you one (or you get one for yourself), don’t expect your fancy new chair will be comfortable in one day. It will take time getting used to. Try it out for small amounts each day. Even when you become an ergonomic sitting-pro, you still may want to alternate between different chairs (and standing), throughout the day.



Am I at Risk for Colorectal Cancer (even if I’m 25 or 30)?

Medical providers generally suggest a colonoscopy for those 50 years old and above. There has been, however, a noticeable increase in rectal cancer for those in their 20’s and 30’s. What’s more worrisome is that the increase is not due to genetics, but perhaps, rather, environmental factors.

Spiking Rates

“Someone born in 1990 would now have twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer than at the same, had they been born in 1950,” according to researchers at the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute.

Frighteningly, colorectal is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer.

How Could It Possibly Be Me?

Doctors and researchers cannot absolutely pinpoint the cause of this growing trend of younger people being diagnosed with colorectal cancer. One hypothesis is that someone in his 20’s is less likely to suspect that signs and symptoms of the disease are pointing towards cancer.

Screenings for this type of cancer, as mentioned, are not recommended for those under 50, unless they’re in a high-risk group. High-risk might include someone with Crohn’s, IBS, or an Autoimmune disease such as HIV. And because younger people aren’t paying attention to symptoms, and not getting tested, often the colorectal cancer is finally detected at more advanced stages.

Not having access to health insurance can also thwart someone from getting screenings or seeing a specialist.

Better if You’re Older

Because of suggested screenings, rectal cancer in those over 50 is often found at an early stage. Back in 1985, approximately 225 people out of 100,000 (over age 50) were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. As of 2013, those rates changed to 116 out of 100,000.  That’s a significant drop in numbers.

Additionally, when a 55-year old notices blood in her stool, she apt to question its origin more than a 25 year-old would. Often, blood found on toilet tissue is mistaken as a sign of bleeding hemorrhoids. Obviously we shouldn’t panic over certain signs, but there may be some that are worth discussing with a physician.

Some symptoms are:

-unusual sustained bloating

-unintended weight loss

-chronic constipation

-blood in stools

Keeping Calm

Yes, newer studies and data are showing increased numbers in younger people diagnosed with colorectal cancer. However, the truth is that the rate of people in their 20’s getting the disease has only increased by two cases for every 200,000 people per year. In 2013, the research showed that approximately 8 out of 100,000 adults under 50 were diagnosed positive for the cancer.

And although the colorectal cancer rates are rising slightly in the younger set, the mortality rate has not increased. Younger people are not dying at higher rates. It’s still fairly uncommon to be diagnosed if you’re under 50, but the rates are rising—and quickly.

Lifestyle, Environment, and Behavior

There is an increased risk of getting any cancer, amongst any age group, when “healthy, mindful living” isn’t part of one’s habitual daily life. Sure, there are folks who smoke, are obese, never exercise, and never get cancer. But, that might be called a “fluke” or “getting lucky.”

How we treat our bodies reflect how well it treats us. And sadly, there, too, are folks who get diagnosed with cancer who’ve taken great care of themselves all along. That unlucky roll of the die is most likely attributable to the toxins in our air, water, and soil.

Regardless, you can decrease your risk, overall, if you are mindful of the foods you eat, the air your breather, the water your drink, and your body’s stress levels. High fiber, low fat, organic foods can help keep your digestive system functioning at optimum capacity. Daily exercise also lends to expelling toxins, increasing oxygen-rich blood, and experiencing less tension and stress. All of these behaviors can certainly keep you healthier than if you didn’t practice them.