Don't Take This Lying Down: Sitting Could Be the New Smoking

It is well established that our bodies are made well through movement; our design boasts approximately 650 skeletal muscles, a cardiovascular system that can circulate five quarts of blood per minute (about 2000 gallons per day) and we can create enough energy to walk 20 or 30 miles at a time. Of course, a 20-mile day is never necessary to optimize health and fitness—we do however need to focus on a lot less sitting. The latest research presents that sitting for extended periods of time is associated with increased obesity, blood pressure, blood sugar, and excessive body fat around the mid-section--all of which lead to an elevated mortality risk from both cardiovascular disease and cancer.  Further research found, that people who sat for at least eight hours a day and performed no physical activity, had an increased risk of death similar to smoking and obesity.

To complicate matters further, the data suggest that extended sitting time is difficult to counter, even if we exercise most of not all days of the week. A key strategy to combat the harmful effects of extended sitting is—wait for it—get up! Yes, it necessitates getting up about every 30 minutes and moving around in some capacity throughout the day. Additionally, we can view the life events that involve movement—laundry, housework, cooking, gardening, walking the dog etc. as opportunities to “dose” ourselves with a much-needed body break from the chair. If you work from home, this may be more easily accomplished; however, as adults return back to work, they can be observed walking around the company grounds, taking calls when possible, to continue on the path of self-care and optimal health. If your job does include a steady amount of moving around and less chair-time—count it all blessing. We have one body, we live in it, and it was designed to move! There is no doubt that movement needs to be a big part of our every day and public health policy makers, employers, and school administrators need to remember to focus on protecting the health of their cherished capital—that’s us!