Sitting: The New Smoking
There is no doubt you have heard the news by now. The more you sit, the earlier you may die. All the time we spend parked behind a steering wheel, slumped over a keyboard, or kicked back in front of the tube is linked to increased risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and even depression—to the point where experts have labeled this modern-day health epidemic the “sitting disease.”
A growing body of research shows that people who spend more time sitting die at an earlier age than those who sit less- even if those sitters exercise. Unfortunately, most exercisers spend just as much time sitting as those who don’t exercise. We sit on an average of 9 hours a day! That makes most of us “active coach potatoes.”
Our bodies are designed to move. Sitting for extended periods of time causes our bodies to adapt in a less than optimal manor. Our metabolic processes slow down and we use less blood sugar. Our circulation decreases and we burn less fat. Our risk for diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, significantly increases. Prolonged sitting has been shown to increase depression and increase the risk of cancer. If all that is not enough, there is significantly more load on your lumbar spine in a sitting position, which leads to issues such as disc herniation and degenerative spine conditions.
The good news is that the negative consequences of sitting can be avoided. Some simple action items include:
Movement Snacks– We recognize the value of small and frequent meals. Why not handle or exercise session in the same manor? Spend 5 minutes of every hour stretching, walking or doing body weight exercises such as squats and push-ups.
Make a stand- The benefits of standing are starting to catch on. There are plenty of standing desk options available. Winston Churchill used to stand at his desk and that is not such a bad example to follow.
Walking Meetings- Schedule meetings where you can spend most of the time walking. Walking increases brain activity and may make your meetings more productive on more than one front.
Just like smoking, sitting can be detrimental to your health. Don’t become victim to “sitting disease.” Take charge, stand up, and get moving! You will feel better, improve your health and be more productive in all aspects of your life.