How Sitting Affects Your Health
Couch potatoes and office workers: beware of sitting disease! Even those that take time each day for exercise can become a casualty of this condition, medically defined as the ill effects that living a sedentary life can cause to our bodies.
And sadly, that daily run or workout in the gym may not be enough to compensate for all the other hours in a day we are sitting still. Why? It’s all about math.
Suppose you exercise the recommended 30 minutes a day, five days a week for a moderate lifestyle. Out of your 168 hour week, you are intentionally moving for 2 ½ hours. If you have a sedentary desk job and like to relax at night in front of the tube, that could mean that your body is relatively still for 90 percent or more of the week!
What’s the Big Deal?
Your next question is probably: So what? I look and feel great! Why is sitting down so bad for my health?
New studies, including one published in the Annals of Internal Medicine have found that prolonged periods of sedentary behavior can have many adverse effects on our bodies, which go far beyond our cardiovascular health.
Medical professionals are recognizing that prolonged sitting is responsible for health ailments in people of all ages, ranging from headaches and joint pain to cancer, heart disease, kidney disease and type 2 diabetes. It is even possible that the chances of developing dementia increase substantially for those people maintaining a sedentary lifestyle.
And if all that isn’t enough, according to the World Health Organization, a sedentary lifestyle has been identified as the fourth largest cause of death worldwide! Make no mistake, sitting disease is a “deep-seated” problem.
How Does It Happen?
According to Harvard Health Publications, research suggests that prolonged sitting messes with your body’s metabolism.
Essentially, the enzymes responsible for your metabolism become dormant when still for too long, delaying or even shutting down cell growth and reconstruction. Active cell regeneration is what keeps our bodies operating at peak performance. Remaining stationary for extended periods of time each day materially increases the damage to our body’s cells, which opens the door to sickness and disease.
Don’t Sit This One Out!
While you may feel great, if you live a lifestyle that requires you to sit for long durations there is no better time than now to start correcting the debilitating effects of sitting disease. Here are a few things you can do starting today:
When given a choice, make the one that keeps you more active. Walk instead of ride, stand instead of sit, and fidget instead of staying still.
Anything you can do to keep your enzymes awake and cells metabolizing, the better! If you have spare time, turn on some music and straighten up instead of settling down to watch a half hour of news. Decide to visit a museum over seeing a movie. Learn to enjoy activities that set you up to move more.
Move your conveniences across the room. Placing convenience items such as remote controls, cell phones, trash cans, and even bottles of water or staplers on a counter away from your regular workstation will force you to change position to get the tools and supplies you need.
While this may seem like a little thing, every time you move you keep your enzymes from going dormant and stalling your cell regeneration.
Use a standing desk or counter-top instead of a table. We have grown used to sitting for many activities that we can perform just as easily standing up. Use a standing desk or counter-top as your work-space to work on your laptop, eat or read. Even just standing part of the time you would usually sit will help stop the harmful effects of sitting disease.
Finally, don’t give up on exercise! True, exercising for an hour a day is not enough to counteract all the harm caused by a sedentary lifestyle. It might be tempting to ignore the other benefits of a daily exercise routine since most of us can’t spend 6-8 hours a day at it. Make sure to combine regular exercise with the other suggestions above and watch sitting disease take a back seat to your good health.