Sitting for hours or staying in a sedentary position really harms your health. The human body is made to move, and we should all try to move throughout the day.
If you go back 100 years, people got up and moved just to survive. They had to milk the cows and work the land to get the food they needed to consume. Today, we can literally perform every function and responsibility we have throughout the day without hardly moving. Science shows sitting all day is very damaging to your health.
Even If You Exercise, Your Health Suffers From Sitting
There’s quite a bit of evidence now that even people who exercise every day can undo the positive cardiovascular benefits of exercise if they don’t move the whole rest of the day. We know exercise reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. It lowers cholesterol and it reduces problems with insomnia and anxiety. Exercise is really the Fountain of Youth.
Even if you get up and work out every morning, by remaining sedentary the rest of the day you lose the benefits we would normally see from exercising. Recent data shows people who stay sedentary for as little as 13 to 15 minutes a day start to experience drawbacks to their health.
Move Your Body Throughout the Day
We really should be trying to move a little throughout the day. That doesn’t mean you need to go out jogging for 16 hours a day while you’re awake, but sitting at your desk in front of a computer all day and not moving anything but your fingertips to type is dangerous to your health.
Does your job require you to sit in front of a computer most of the day? Get creative and talk to your boss about using a standing desk to perform your duties. Standing is more beneficial than sitting because it’s a weight-bearing activity. When you stand, you’re constantly shifting your position a little bit and moving those little muscles. It’s certainly not a workout, but standing is more beneficial than not using any muscle power at all.
You can buy a standing desktop for $30 on Amazon. Or ask your employer to invest in a treadmill desk to keep your body moving all day. The price tag on a treadmill desk is a bit higher, however, ranging in cost from $800 to $4,000.
You can also take little breaks throughout the day without detracting from your job. Get up and move around the office, walk to the coffee station for a refill, or just stand up and stretch your body. I’m not saying you can’t sit down to do your job but sitting and not moving for hours at a time hurts your heart health and starts to reverse any benefit you get from exercising.
It Only Takes 13 Minutes of Inactivity to Cause Harm
I recently went to a conference where we discussed this big study comparing the results of people who sat for 8 minutes or fewer versus people who sat for 13 minutes or more. In the latter group, the study found the benefits of cardiovascular exercise disappeared in people who sat for 13 minutes or more throughout the day.
I think that’s scary! We call it “making a living” but it’s like we’re killing ourselves by just sitting there and not moving. What’s worse, most people go home after work and park themselves on the couch or in their favorite chair. Find little moments throughout the day to walk, stretch, do some lunges and squats or a quick burst of cardio like jumping jacks — anything but sitting still.
If you have questions about how to exercise more or how to squeeze extra activity into your day, call me at (317) 343-0611 or come see me at Olp Family Medicine in Carmel. I’ll help you find ways to keep things moving.