Sitting is Ruining Your Health
Research has clearly linked too much sitting with a number of health problems including obesity and metabolic syndrome which is a cluster of conditions including increased blood pressure, increased blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels. In fact, a person’s metabolic syndrome risk goes up 26% for every hour of watching TV.
We are in an electronic age. Our bodies were designed to be upright in mostly constant movement. Now we sit while driving, sit for office work, sit to eat, sit to play video games, sit to email/chat/internet surf, and sit to watch TV. THEN….we go to bed. Those of us who are TV junkies or have office jobs are rarely completely upright! And an hour of exercise a day isn’t enough to battle the issues that come with standing – an average of 9.3 hours a day for most of us.
Sitting is literally killing us. Some researchers refer to it as “sitting disease.” It is not only increasing our risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, it is causing us poor posture and spine health. When we sit for long periods of time, our hip flexors and hamstrings shorten and tighten and our spine becomes weak and stiff. Which is also why people who sit a lot are much more likely to suffer chronic lower back pain.
And the less we move, the less blood sugar our body uses. In just one hour of sitting, the production of enzymes in our bodies that burn fat decreases as much as 90%.
What can we do about it? First, let me point out that even little movements matter! The Mayo Clinic performed a study in which they measured every step and fidget of 20 people. After 10 days they found that the lean participants moved an average of 150 minutes more per day than the overweight people – which is enough to burn 350 calories! These small extra movements throughout our day that aren’t actual exercise are called “NEAT” – or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. It’s the folding laundry, toe tapping, getting up and down from your chair activities…and they can add up.
Just standing up from your desk for one minute intervals throughout the day can help improve your metabolic function. Here are some other ideas to keep you moving, keep your metabolism humming along, and improve your quality of life:
* Stand while talking on the phone or reading email
* Swap your desk chair for a large stability ball
* Limit your TV time – or watch TV while on a treadmill or exercise bike
* Take the stairs rather than the elevator
* Rather than email a coworker – walk to her desk
* Consider walking meetings – it has improved the health and creativity of this writer for the Harvard Business Review who recently wrote, “Sitting is the Smoking of Our Generation”
I am sitting to write this blog post…and all I can think is that I should be moving! So that is exactly what I am going to do…..
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In order to change we must be sick and tired of being sick and tired.” ~Author Unknown