Whats the Problem?
We all sit. We sit in school at desks when we’re young for the majority of the day, we sit at work in front of computer screens, and then when we get home we do it again, and binge watch Netflix just plopped on our rears. In between these “activities”, we sit in the car. Everyone sits. It is just how the world is now. For centuries, we humans worked the fields, stalked prey, and used our own two legs to take us where we needed to go. I’m not blasting modern luxuries. No one WANTS to walk to work uphill both ways in 6 feet of snow like our Grandfathers, but the fact remains; sitting is an epidemic; it is slowly creeping up from behind your La-Z-Boy to give you a heart attack.
Studies show that people are sitting an average of 9.3 hours a day, and sitting 6 or more hours a day makes you up to 40% more likely to die within the next 15 years than someone who sits less than 3 hours a day. This is shocking. Mainly because it’s not viewed as “unhealthy” to sit; or at least not to the general public. But when you think about it, we even sit more than we sleep. This round the clock sedentary lifestyle is why researchers and medical professionals are comparing the long-term effects of sitting to smoking. Yes, you read that correctly. Excessive sitting effects are almost, if not as bad, as the effects of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
But Wait, There's More
These effects aren’t just from sitting for 9 hours straight, although long periods of sitting obviously don’t help anything, your body stops activity immediately after you sit. Literally electrical leg muscle activity stops as soon as you sit, and calorie burning drops to a single calorie a minute. Wondering why that diet isn’t helping you lose weight? It’s probably because you can’t even burn off a salad with no dressing while you catch up on Orange is the New Black because the enzymes that break down fat drop to 10% activity. And after two hours of sitting, your good cholesterol drops 20%. People who have a sitting job have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease as those with standing jobs. So when you feel bad about the cashier that stands all day, just know they will more than likely out live you.
Stand Up To Sitting
So how do we combat this? Well, it's quite simple actually. Stand up. Walk. Stretch. Do jumping jacks. Literally, anything than just sitting. The daily 30 minutes of activity that is “recommended” is simply not enough. Just interrupt sitting whenever you can. And this is difficult, I understand. When you are in class you can’t exactly just start running in place. But you can get off the couch when you have free time. Walk, go dancing, hike, run, or just simply stand. For a large group of people sitting down for an 8-hour work day is unavoidable, but outside of working, the sitting problem can become much more serious for your cardiovascular health and possibly deadly. This is because if you watch 3 hours or more of TV a day, you are 64% more likely to die from heart disease or cardiovascular related problems. This is alarming. Most people view this as simply “relaxing” and not essentially giving your heart the equivalent of 20 cigarettes all in a row.
The basic thing we need to do to counteract this heavily detrimental lifestyle is to simply, stand. Make sure to stand up and walk around at least once an hour. Pop some jumping jacks in, stand at your computer, just don’t sit all day long, and tell your friends to stand up, before you, or them literally can’t anymore.