You are probably sitting to read this article, but your body does not like it. According to a study, people in the US spend on average 7.7 hours per day sitting. But our body was created for movement, not sitting. If you take a look at our body structure, you will see the evidence in joints and muscles. Even hundreds of years ago, working in a field, hunting in woods or crafting tools would require you a great deal of physical activity.
Now the traps are everywhere. In the morning you eat breakfast and check e-mails sitting down. You travel to work/school sitting on a comfy seat of a car or less comfy one of a tram or bus. You work/study in the same position throughout the day. You travel home, sit down on a couch to relax and watch a TV. Maybe you go for some variety and actually workout, but it is a small fraction of your time.
So what? Why is sitting so bad for us?
As studies show, a sedentary lifestyle leads to whole lot of health problems including type 2 diabetes by 91%, cardiovascular disease by 14% and cancer incidents by 13%. It is also estimated that on average 1 hour of sitting costs you 21.8 minutes of your life, while one cigarette only 11 minutes. The scariest part is that exercising does not wipe the negative effect of sitting as the body uses energy differently while standing compared to exercising.
The ways how prolonged sitting leads to such negative effects are harder to explore. It is frequently linked to obesity, inactivity of some enzymes which help to clean fats out of blood stream and reduced regulation of inflammation and blood clotting. Sitting, especially with a curved back, can also decrease your brain activity as it does not get enough oxygen through blood stream.
But you can fix it. One study showed that frequent short-activity breaks are effective at preventing negative effects of sitting, which bring better outcome than longer period of exercise. So what can you do?
1. Set an alarm or reminder to get up each 30 minutes to walk for couple of minutes.
2. Talk on phone or to a colleague while standing.
3. Put small cup of water on your desk and refill it regularly.
4. Work at standing desk.
5. Take the stairs.
6. Take walks after school or work.
7. Learn a dance or search for Just Dance on YouTube (for home).
As you are done reading the article, get up and walk a bit while you still can. Your health is your true wealth, not your school grades or career. There will be always life goals to pursue, but if you don’t have health, you won’t be able to achieve them. Besides, it does not take so much effort to keep your most valuable asset in check. You just have to make a smart choice everyday. Your body will thank you for it.
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