I know that fall is coming and the weather is getting cooler, especially lately in Indiana. Soon it will be time for cozy nights in front of a roaring fire sipping hot chocolate (or wine!). This is a real Norman Rockwell moment, isn’t it? Well, all of those cozy evenings with cooler weather means more time sitting inside the house, and I’m emphasizing the sitting part. What I’ve learned is that sitting is not good for you. In fact, I’ll just say it, sitting is bad for you, like hazardous to your health bad for you! Read on for more info about sitting and what you can do to counteract the dangers of sitting.
Now I’ll be the first to say that I love a good sit! Relaxing with my family and watching a movie is one of my favorite things to do. I am also an avid reader so I like to curl up with a good book and have a nice, long reading session. So when I say that sitting is bad for you I want you to know that I love sitting, but I have changed my sitting behavior as a result of what I’ve been reading about the dangers of sitting. Dr. Mercola references a study in which the results concluded that adults who spend an average of 6 hours in front of the TV per day cut their life expectancy by almost 5 years, compared to people who don’t watch TV. Another study found that people who sit for longest periods of time are twice as likely to have diabetes or heart disease, compared to people who sit only for short periods of time. Here’s the important thing and the thing that really changed my sitting habits, EVEN FOR THOSE WHO ARE ACTIVE (and I’d call myself an active individual), SITTING FOR LONG STRETCHES IS A RISK FACTOR FOR DIABETES, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE AND KIDNEY DISEASE. This is true even if you exercise regularly. So, in conclusion, it really doesn’t matter how much you workout, if you sit too long it negates all the positive benefits of your exercise.
So why is sitting so bad for you? When you sit, the lack of muscle contraction decreases blood flow through your body, reducing the efficiency of your body systems. If you think about it, even if you exercise for 30 minutes to an hour a day and you sleep for 8, that still leaves 15- 15 1/2 hours a day- your non-exercise wakeful time. If most of that time is spent sitting you’ve got a major problem on your hands. Seniors are particularly vulnerable and need to make an effort to move more (Hear that Mama?!!). In another study Mercola sited that seniors who moved a lot during the day suffered fewer heart-related problems, suffered fewer strokes and heart attacks, were least likely to die, had less depression, less dementia, less cancer, less diabetes, and had low risk profiles overall.
With all of this compelling evidence that sitting is very bad for you presented, what can we do to live a healthy life? It’s a very easy solution- STAND UP! Another study was sited that found regularly standing up from a sitting position is more effective than WALKING. It’s because when you stand up your change in posture acts against gravity which is beneficial to your body, as does moving in any way. Sitting, because it’s low gravity, causes your body to deteriorate at a far more rapid pace than standing.
Now you might say, “How can I stand? I work at a desk all day?” Great questions and here is the answer: STAND UP WHILE YOU WORK. I’m standing right now as I work on my blog post as I frequently do. My kitchen island is the perfect height for me to stand and use my laptop.
Your next objection might be, “I don’t have a kitchen counter to stand at while I’m working and it will hurt my back to lean down to my desk.” I totally agree but they have these really cool standing desks. I first heard about them years ago because my dad has a bad back. He had to get a standing desk because he couldn’t sit for too long without hurting his back. However, now they’re all the rage and it should be fairly easy to get one.
But what about when you’re watching tv? A standing desk won’t help you then right? Here’s what I do. I set my phone alarm to go off at 15 minute intervals while I’m watching TV or reading and then I don’t just stand up but I do 5 jump squats while standing. Then I sit down and enjoy my program or book for another 15 minutes. I do the jump squats because it is better to exercise my body while standing to achieve the optimal benefits. Sometimes I’ll jog in place or do regular squats to change it up. Mercola calls this intermittent movement and says you need to do this 35 TIMES PER DAY. That doesn’t mean you can stand up 35 times in a row and then sit for the rest of the day, it has to be spaced evenly throughout your waking hours.
On that same note, instead of getting a standing desk, get a treadmill desk. I saw it on Good Morning America this week. One of the correspondents on the show got one of these and lost 25 pounds by using it during the day. I know they’re a little pricey, approximately $1500, but what price will you pay for your sitting induced bad health?!! Doctors appointments, medications, tests, etc, etc, etc… Cha Ching!!! To conclude this post, sitting is hazardous to your health and to counteract the ill effects of sitting you need to STAND UP AND MOVE, at least 35 times throughout the day like I do! Do this and you will live a life of vitality- like Valerie!