Get Out of Your Chair…for Your Health’s Sake
How much time do you spend sitting each day?
You might be surprised if you stop to really consider all those minutes and hours.
Really think about it. Maybe you commute to and from work. Maybe you sit at a desk most of the day. In the evening you may watch TV or spend time on your laptop, tablet, or smart phone.
It adds up.
According to one study, working-age adults spend an average of 9.5 hours each day being inactive or sedentary (i.e. sitting or lying down). For older people that number tends to be even higher.
Why Sitting Too Much Can Be a Problem
In recent years the term “sittosis” has been coined to describe our society’s tendency to spend too much time sitting. And the negative effects of sitting too much are now compared to the negative effects of smoking.
But why is too much sitting so bad for you?
The reason goes back to our earliest ancestors.
Thousands of years ago, humans were hunters and gatherers. That just means our ancestors spent most of their time on the move…looking for food.
Thousands of years spent as hunters and gathers adapted the human body to a life of constant movement. In short, your body is designed to be in near-constant motion (when not sleeping).
But spending more than half of your awake time sitting down? Your body just isn’t designed for that. And it can cause serious medical problems, including:
- Muscle atrophy
- Sciatic nerve pain
- Abdominal weight
- Loss of bone density
“Use it or lose it” applies to your muscles as much as anything else. When you’re spending eight hours a day or more sitting, the muscles in your core and legs can waste away from lack of use.
Too much time sitting can put stress on the sciatic nerve. This nerve runs from your lower back down the outside of each leg. Sciatic nerve inflammation can cause intense pain when sitting or lying down.
Extended time sitting can result in weight gain around the middle…but not just from a lack of activity. This is because sitting for too long stops the circulation of lipase. This enzyme helps your muscles to absorb fat for energy. Without lipase, fat circulates in your bloodstream until it gets stored as body fat or until it accumulates in your blood vessels. This type of weight gain is associated with an increased risk for developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
As NASA’s astronauts have learned while on extended space missions, a lack of weight-bearing activity leads to diminished bone density. And bone loss increases the risk for fractures…especially as people get older.
Save Yourself from “Sittosis”
With so much of modern-day life centered on commuting and computer screens, what can you do to avoid sitting too much? Especially given that studies show that getting only an hour of exercise each day doesn’t adequately counteract the effects of spending the rest of your time sitting down.
Here are some simple steps you can take to counteract the effects of sitting too much:
- Break up your sitting time. Experts say that standing up and walking around for thirty seconds every 30 minutes or so is enough to keep your body from “settling in”.
- Change your work environment to encourage movement. Get a standing desk, or a computer stand that lets you easily move from sitting to standing. Or use a balance ball or treadmill at your workstation.
- Eat a healthy diet. Getting plenty of antioxidants in your diet or from supplements can help to counteract some of the effects of sitting too much.
Worried that your lifestyle might make you a victim of sittosis? Renew Youth is here to help. Call us today at 800-859-7511 or use our convenient contact form to sign up for your free 30-minute consultation.