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Rx for Stress: La-Z-Boy

"The vast majority of doctors (96 percent) agree that sitting at home in a reclining position promotes relaxation."

That's the latest from the folks at La-Z-Boy, makers of -- you got it -- reclining chairs. The company's new "Take Time to Recline" campaign, featuring spokesperson Dr. Dave David, centers on the notion that stress relief is key to overall health.

Fair enough. The mainstream medical community is increasingly aware of the many negative effects stress can have on our bodies and minds. Heart disease, overweight, depression and reduced immunity have been attributed to chronic stress.

The La-Z-Boy Web site, to its credit, features tips and videos about stress reduction, not all of them related to easy chairs. But the message is clear: Recliners are the way to go.

Quoted on the site, Dr. David observes that "In today's hectic world, where so many people have extremely busy schedules, it's important to make relaxing a priority. There's no better place to follow 'doctor's orders' than in a comfortable recliner or reclining sofa." The reclined position (the kind made possible by a La-Z-Boy chair) is optimal for relaxation, he's quoted as saying, because it reduces pressure on the joints and prevents swelling and edema.

But that bit about "the vast majority of doctors" touting reclining for relaxation, though, is a bit of a stretch. The "new La-Z-Boy study" (which is not posted on the site but was made available to me as a member of the media) from which it derives was in fact a brief Internet survey completed by 300 primary-care physicians. The doctors (nearly all of them male, by the way) were asked the extent to which they agreed with the statement "Sitting in a reclining position can reduce stress." Ninety-four percent agreed or strongly agreed.

"In conjunction with other healthy behaviors," the survey asked, "approximately how many minutes should a person take each day to relax as a way to reduce stress?" The average answer was 52.99 minutes, with the most common response being 60 minutes.

The participating physicians were shown a set of six images of various reclining-in-an-easy-chair positions and asked "For relaxation at home to reduce stress, which of these recliner positions would be preferred?" Just over half voted for the "reclined, high leg-rest" position, while just under half chose the "fully reclined, high leg-rest" one.

Cobble those responses together and you've got what looks like strong support for lounging in a La-Z-Boy.

Dr. David acknowledged to me on the phone that this was "not a scientific study."

"It's a survey," he said, "a study of the opinions of MDs."

I'm a big believer in stress management; I'd be a mess without my yoga practice. I've also quite enjoyed the stray moments I've spent sitting in a recliner. But there's nothing magic about a La-Z-Boy, much less that "reclined position," when it comes to stress relief.

So, if you're asking Santa for a recliner, I hope you find one under the tree. But if Santa doesn't deliver, relax in the knowledge that sipping a nice cup of tea, reading a good book or going out for a jog can do the trick at least as well as lying back in an easy chair.

Let's do a little research of our own:

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  December 1, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Family Health , General Health  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Rx: Take health news with a grain of salt
Next: More worrisome mammogram news


Recliners definitely don't substitute for yoga or a moderate workout. BUT they can make the chore of sitting more relaxing and less stressful: I am writing this in a recliner, with my laptop on a board across my lap - far healthier than slumping in front of a desk computer!

And, no, I am not paid by Lazyboy...

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D., physician, author.

Posted by: AlexaFleckensteinMD | December 1, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

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