When we sit too long our health suffers in various ways including obesity, heart disease and death.
The average American spends more than 1/2 of their time sitting. Individuals classified as “obese”, sit 2.5 more hours than those classified as “normal” and 1 in 3 Americans are now classified as obese.
More of us have sedentary jobs, the kind that require working at a desk for long hours. People with “sitting” jobs have 2 times the rate of cardiovascular disease and are 54% more likely to die of heart disease. If we continue to sit once we get home (3 or more extra hours of sitting) we are 64% more likely to die from heart disease, beyond that increases to 75% or more. Leisure activities like T.V. watching, surfing the internet and playing online video games have also increased our levels of inactivity.
What happens when we sit too long? We end up developing posture problems. The fascia, tissue that connects individual muscles into a network, begins to “set” when we stay in one position for too long (our bodies adapt to what we do most often). This can cause lower back pain. Weak gluteal muscles push the pelvis forward, putting stress on the spine, which also makes the belly protrude.
Did you know that sitting makes you fatter? Standing can burn up to 60 calories per minute while calorie burn drops to about 1 calorie per minute when sitting. The electrical activity in our legand gluteal muscles shuts off. Next, our gluteal muscles become lazy and quit firing which burns fewer calories. Our fat burning enzymes drop by 90% and HDL, “good” cholesterol, drops by 20%. Also, insulin effectiveness drops by 24%, increasing our risk for type 2 diabetes.
What about exercise? Exercise is essential for overall health and wellness, but it is not the antidote for sitting too long any more than jogging offsets the effects of smoking. We must get up and move throughout the day. Taking regular activity breaks can help us have up to a 4.1cm smaller waist line than people who do not take activity breaks.
Take a look at these 7 ways to fit quick and painless activity into your day:
- Stand up when talking on the phone.
- If you are sending a long email to someone in your office, get up and deliver it in-person.
- Set an alarm on your computer or phone to remind you to get up.
- Drink water throughout the day. This ensures you will get up at least once an hour to use the restroom.
- Take the stairs whenever possible.
- Walk around the building, parking lot or block before you get in your car to drive home.
- Take a walk at lunch, even a quick 10 minutes can make a big difference.
If you are really serious about increasing your activity, ask your boss for a treadmill desk or make your own!