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Media Release

Date: 19th April 2021


Our 21st-century lifestyle and inactivity, worsened by Covid-19 lockdowns, is killing us, warns the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association (NZCA).

The warning from the country’s peak body for chiropractors follows publication of a study that suggests inactivity drives 1 in 14 deaths globally[1]. The new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that inactivity drives up to 8% of noncommunicable diseases and mortality.

NZCA spokesperson and chiropractor, Dr Jenna Duehr explains: `New Zealand’s chiropractors are specially trained to inform and inspire people to  improve their health and wellbeing and prevent future pain and disability, by educating the public to have a greater understanding of the relationship between their spine and nervous system, improving their posture, addressing and preventing spinal problems, and engaging in physical activity.

`We know that inactivity is a risk factor for premature mortality and several non-communicable diseases. The purpose of this study was to estimate the extent of the global burden associated with physical inactivity, and to examine differences by country income and region.’

The study looked at 168 countries to estimate how much disease could be averted if physical inactivity were eliminated.

— Globally, 7.2% and 7.6% of all-cause and cardiovascular disease deaths, respectively, are attributable to physical inactivity.

— The proportions of non-communicable diseases attributable to physical inactivity range from 1.6% for hypertension to 8.1% for dementia.

— However, 69% of total deaths and 74% of cardiovascular disease deaths associated with physical inactivity are occurring in middle-income countries, given their population size.

Jenna Duehr comments: `The study confirms what we already knew, that the burden associated with physical inactivity is substantial and we believe it is getting worse as the effects of inactivity affect our younger generations.’

According to New Zealand statistics, 1 in 8 adults are doing less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week and only around half of NZ adults are doing at least 2.5 hours per week. 4 out of 5 children aged 5-14 years are watching screens for 2 or more hours a day[2].

Other studies show a significant increase in back pain, specifically lower back pain, among children and adolescents between ages 10 and 18 years old[3]. The increase progresses linearly with age by about four percent for each year of age.

Jenna Duehr says: `A lack of active play, hours spent hunched over electronic devices, overladen backpacks, and poorly designed and unsupportive beds are setting our children up for a lifetime of pain and dysfunction.  The physical manifestation of these issues is just the tip of the iceberg; many other issues are likely to appear over time, such as a lack of confidence, anxiety, hormone imbalance as well as postural imbalances – to name a few[4].’

`We know that many of us are spending more than four hours a day reading or texting on our smartphones and when we’re hunched over our devices, the effect of the head’s weight can reach up to 25 kgs, which may lead to dysfunction in the joints of the neck and/or early degeneration and herniated discs. On top of this, we are spending more time sitting at a computer.  The health of the spine also impacts the nervous system, and the follow on to problems such as these are only starting to be recognised, with physical difficulties and social anxiety becoming more common.’

The NZCA wants to encourage all New Zealanders to do regular exercises to minimise the effects of lifestyle choices on their spines. Regular chiropractic care helps to support spine and nervous system integrity, and simple equipment such as a foam roller, mobility ball or neck wedge can help to stretch overworked muscles and improve posture.

Jenna Duehr, says: `The best posture is your next posture. We should be regularly moving rather than remaining primarily sedentary. Good, healthy posture is learned at a young age through physical activity. If healthy physical activity, non-sedentary behaviour and good sleep habits are established early in life, this helps shape habits through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood.  We have developed a simple, three-minute daily exercise regime to support good posture and spinal health on our Straighten Up NZ website:


[2] Ministry of Health (2020) Annual update of key results (2019/2020): New Zealand Health Survey.

[3] S J Kamper, Z A Michaleff, P Campbell, K M Dunn, T P Yamato, R K Hodder, J Wiggers, C M Williams. Back pain, mental health and substance use are associated in adolescents. Journal of Public Health, 2018; DOI: 10.1093/pubmed/fdy129

[4] Fabricant, Peter D. MD, MPHa; Heath, Madison R. BSa; Schachne, Jonathan M. BAa,b; Doyle, Shevaun M. MDa; Green, Daniel W. MD, MSa; Widmann, Roger F. MDa The Epidemiology of Back Pain in American Children and Adolescents, SPINE: August 15, 2020 – Volume 45 – Issue 16 – p 1135-1142

doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000003461

Further Information

Chiropractors are uniquely placed to provide care that specifically focuses on the health of the spine, the relationship between the spine and the nervous system, and how this may impact proper posture and movement.

New Zealand’s chiropractors are taking the lead to inform, and inspire people to improve their health and wellbeing by educating the public to have a greater understanding of the relationship between their spine and nervous system, improving their posture, addressing and preventing spinal problems, and engaging in physical activity.

How to avoid poor posture:

  1. Encourage everyone to use devices wisely; either prop up the device so that it is at eye-level, or lie on your stomach with the device in your hands in front of you.
  2. Hold the device straight out from your face rather than drop your head to look at it. Take breaks every 15 minutes, or don’t use the device for more than 30 minutes a time with an equal rest of 30 minutes.
  3. Limit usage for under 6-year-olds, less than one hour per day. During rapid growth phases in older children and teens, less than two hours per day.
  4. Have regular spinal health checkups with your NZCA chiropractor.
  5. View the map below for your local playgrounds, and encourage your children to play outside.


Further Information:

Dr Jenna Duehr, Chiropractor 027 485 3662  or [email protected]

Peter Boyes 027 554 0500 or [email protected]

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. This thought-provoking blog sheds light on the detrimental effects of inactivity and emphasizes the important role that chiropractors play in promoting active lifestyles and overall wellness.

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