“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.” –Dr. James Levine.
Experts say that sitting for long periods of time is as bad as smoking. This is a pretty intense statistic seeing as though the average person spends a great deal of time sitting.
Think about it, you’re sitting in the mornings while drinking your first cup of coffee and eating your breakfast, then you’re sitting in your car for 15 to 20 to 45 minutes – or however long it takes you to get to work, then you’re sitting behind your desk all day, and then, guess what? You’re sitting on the sofa watching TV up till bedtime!
Sedentary is an adjective used to describe a person who spends too much time being inactive. Dr. James Levine, the director of the Mayo Clinic at Arizona State University, says that ‘sitting Is the New Smoking’. Seems like quite a dramatic statement, but studies (a lot of them) have confirmed that chronic sitting increases the risk of:
- Colon cancer
- Strained neck
- Foggy brain
- Sore shoulders and back
- Back problems, such as inflexible spine and disk damage
- Muscle degeneration, which can lead to soft abs, decreased limb mobility and limp glutes
- Poor leg circulation
- Soft bones
- Heart disease
- Over-productive pancreas, which can lead type 2 diabetes
- Kidney disease
- Last (but definitely not least) DEATH!
So, if you’re sitting in an office job every day, you should definitely read on…
Obviously, there have been suggestions on how to reverse the terrible effects of sitting for too long. The first solution that sprung up was, let’s stand! Well, surely standing workstations are the solution to all your sedentary problems… Um, not really. Too much standing isn’t too good for your health either (although it may be a little better than sitting). Being sedentary applies to both sitting and standing for long periods (anything from 60 to 90 minute at a time).
The next solution was, let’s exercise! So, you’re sitting all day long, why not counteract it with strenuous activity. Sadly, as fantastic as exercise is for your body, it’s not enough to reverse the damage of being sedentary for a long time every day, unless you’re exercising very, very intensely. Put it this way, if you’re sitting for 12 hours in a day (work, home, car, etc. all included), you’ll need up to 2 hours of exercise per day to reverse the negative side effects of being sedentary.
Now that we know what the solution isn’t, what’s the answer?
The answer is: move as much as possible throughout the entire day. This beats standing in the same place for the whole day and exercising intensely every day. Here are a few ways you can ensure you keep active throughout the day:
- Step away from your desk for at least five minutes every hour
- Always take the stairs
- Walk to your colleagues and speak to them directly instead of messaging them
- Walk around while you’re on your cellphone
- Park your car as far away from your office as you can
- Get out of the office during your lunch break
It’s also extremely important to have a comfortable office chair, especially if you’re sitting for most of the day. The better the chair, the more lumbar and pelvic support it will provide, which will ensure fewer headaches, fewer backaches, less fatigue and better concentration.