We all do it, every day. Some of us do it for most of each day. We do it at home, at school, at work, at ball games and at the movies – as well as when commuting by car or train and traveling in airplanes. What is this pervasive risk factor that can cause early death? It's called "sitting" and Americans average 9.3 hours a day compared to 7.7 hours of sleeping.
If you spend too much time sitting, your body reverts to a state of lazy biology. Essentially this means the systems in a lounging body work differently from those in a body that’s standing.
The dangers of too much sitting have been documented in new studies that show that:
- Extended sitting slows the body's metabolism reducing levels of fat burning enzymes and HDL (the “good”) cholesterol.
- Decreased blood flow to the legs causes the blood vessels to stiffen, increasing blood pressure and raising the risk for hardening of the arteries, a cause of heart attacks and strokes.
- Sitting too long raises your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart, kidney and liver disease, and certain kinds of cancers, even for people who meet the recommended physical activity levels.
- Prolonged sitting increases the pressure between the disks of the spine, contributing to back pain.
- Sitting more than 6 hours a day increases your risk of death, even if you work out.
Being sedentary for the average 9 hours a day is killing us! By looking at inactivity separately from not getting enough exercise, researchers have found that even if you work out for an hour a day, it does not offset the perils of prolonged sitting.
So, what to do if you can't quit your day job? And if exercise won't help anyway, what can Americans do to truly combat the negative effects of sitting for long?
- Set a daily schedule and periodically, at least once an hour, take a 2-minute break of light to moderate activity. Walk around your office, climb some stairs.
- Make exercise a part of your meetings: Switch your coffee meetings to walking meetings. Block off time in your calendar.
- Stand at the back of the room during company meetings or ask your company to create a collaborative meeting space at standing height.
- Develop an "active work station" such as a standing desk or a treadmill desk.
- Instead of hitting the vending machine at 3 pm, make a point to stand up, stretch and do a few leg exercises like squats and calf raises.
Small, simple changes can have a dramatic impact on your health. Even if it seems elementary, the consistency of doing a "little bit a lot" is a formula for success. Add up the minutes of movement in your daily routine for big health benefits.
(c) Copyright - Joan L. Pagano. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.