Is Sitting the New Smoking?

WARNING! The information I am about to impart may be depressing! But, I promise to give you the up side, to make lemonade from lemons, and bring in a few unanticipated perks as well.

So here goes:

In a recently posted article on www.functionalmovement.com, a highly respected source of human movement research and guidelines, Dr. Lee Burton discussed a couple of research studies about sitting. A worthy topic to be sure, since many of us do this a lot, either because of our jobs, our commute, or our lifestyle choices.

In a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, men who spent more than 23 hours/week (that’s a little less than 3.3 hours/day) watching TV or sitting in their cars after a regular day at work had a 64% greater chance of dying from heart disease than those who sat 11 hours a week or less outside of work.

Perhaps even more stunning is that many of these participants worked out regularly. This means that the effects of hours of sitting were not counteracted by spending some time at lunch or after work at the gym.

OK, so now for some better news. Not great, but better. Another group studied the effects of standing up at work. They found that participants averaged heart rates 10 beats per minute higher than while sitting. They calculated that this adds up to burning about 50 calories more per hour. In this study, participants were burning about 30,000 more calories per year than those who sat all day. That comes out to burning over 8 pounds of fat in a year. If you do the math, that means standing a bit less than 2 and a half hours/day for that extra calorie burn.

Sitting is coming under more and more scrutiny, and the results aren’t pretty. As you can probably feel yourself, if you sit for a while, your body actually starts to slow down, making it harder to get going or feel motivated to move around. That’s because your metabolism actually shuts down to accommodate less movement.

Rather than give you the usual tips about taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away from your destination, or walking on your lunch hour (all good ideas by the way), here’s some other things to think about.

  1. IF YOU MOVE MORE, YOU FEEL BETTER. SIMPLE. You could make it your mantra.
  2. MOVING IS NATURAL. We were born to move. Think about the times you work out or are more active. It makes you feel better (I know this is what I just said, but its important). Not only is it natural, but we need it to stay healthy. When we don’t move, we feel worse in general.
  3. Here’s something you can do that will only take a few minutes. Write down an activity map of your day, which includes how much you are standing up. Then rewrite it, throwing in ways you can move around more. For instance, stand up every time you answer the phone. Stand up when you read your mail. Get up every hour and do a few stretches. Admittedly, this takes real thought and awareness. FYI, there are programs for your computer that remind you to get up at regular intervals. Perhaps you could set the alarm on your watch or use a small clock. Get a platform for your computer that goes vertical so you can use it standing up.
  4. If you are a TV watcher, think up little chores or things to do in a different room during commercials and go do them. OR while you are writing things down, decide which shows or quarter of football could be expendable. Are they really THAT good? Another thing: you may think of this as your time to relax, but you can throw in some movement that will ultimately relax you even more. Remember your mantra.
  5. You might argue that you do move fairly regularly at work or around the house doing chores. Good. One thing though. Repetitive motions, or motions that take place just in front of you (like vacuuming or doing the dishes) need to be a piece of the pie that has you moving in rotation, side bends, and laterally. This keeps your muscles balanced and you feeling even better.

To that end, keep reading my blogs! I will be giving you more reasons to move, and more simple, targeted, and meaningful ways to do that. The meaningful part is that these ways will be integrated into an overall design to get you moving toward better fitness in an incremental, logical progression. The progression will work for you if you are just starting or even if you have been working out regularly.

Cheers, and once again, remember your mantra! IF YOU MOVE MORE, YOU FEEL BETTER. SIMPLE.

© 2016-2020 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.

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