As the number of scientific studies pointing out the health risks from sitting for long periods, including early death, are published at a fast and furious pace, it’s more imperative than ever that we rethink our sedentary lives. On average in the U.S. we are sedentary for 21 hours out of the day, sitting and sleeping, and active or standing for only 3 hours.
In 150 years we have gone from a society that walked or stood 90% of the day to one that sits for 60%. People across America are sitting almost all day. We sit at desk jobs, when we drive, when we eat, watching T.V. and on the computer. Research shows if people would sit for 3 hours less per day it would add 2 years to the average life expectancy.
Our Bodies Are Meant To Be Upright
Between 1980 and 2000 exercise remained the same, sitting time increased 8% and obesity doubled. Obese people sit 2.5 more hours per day than thin people.
People with sitting jobs have twice the risk of heart disease as people with standing jobs.
Spending most of the time in a seated position, and with poor posture, is simply bad for your back and neck. The very act of sitting puts more pressure on the spine and compresses the disks in your spine. This can lead to premature degeneration, which results in chronic pain.
Prolonged sitting also has a negative effect on internal organs, especially your heart. Sitting in the same place for hours leads to poor blood flow to all body parts, including your heart. Poor blood flow allows fats and plaque to easily clog your heart, which in turn leads to high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
Heart CT scans and physical activity records of more than 2,000 adults living in Dallas were analyzed, and the researchers found that each hour of sitting per day was associated with a 14 percent increase in coronary artery calcification. Coronary calcification is a sign of damaged heart arteries and can increase the risk of a heart attack. Extended sitting appears more dangerous than skipping exercise in your daily routine.
Other health conditions linked to time in the chair include:
- Diabetes mellitus
- High blood pressure
Sitting has been found to result in changes in metabolism in as little as 30 minutes, including:
- Higher levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.
- Lower levels of “good” HDL cholesterol
- Higher blood sugar levels and reduced insulin sensitivity
- Higher blood pressure
- Lower mental alertness and positivity
- Higher measures of inflammation
As soon as you sit:
- Electrical activity in the leg muscles shuts off
- Calorie burning drops to 1 per minute
- Enzymes that help breakdown fat drop by 90%
Bursts of Activity Needed
The amount of activity needed to improve the response to prolonged sitting is small; even light walking two out of every 20 minutes improves glucose metabolism. Interrupt sitting with short bursts of activity whenever you can. Even with exercise people who sit for the majority of their day shorten their life span. In other words exercising later doesn’t make up for long periods of sitting. You have to get up and move in-between sitting spells. Don’t just sit there.
Get Off The Couch
When you get home don’t spend your evening vegging out on the couch. If you just have to watch your favorite shows, exercise during the commercials. Better yet, go for a walk or run or bike ride. Plant a garden and do yard work. Take the dog or kids to the park. Go window shopping in the mall. Turn up the music and dance. Jump on a rebounder. Just find activities you enjoy and get active. Live your life on your feet not your butt.
You have the power to heal yourself, it is your birthright. And it is my mission to help you learn the many ways available to you.