Just as jogging every afternoon doesn’t counteract a pack a day smoking habit, eating healthy and exercising a few hours a week doesn’t counteract sitting all day.
We live in the most sedentary era in the history of the world. We have an obesity epidemic and people are moving less and less. It’s well known that the United States is the fattest country on the planet but with a population fifteen times smaller, Australia is the fattest country per capita.
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Some experts believe that there are links between sitting and obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The key number associated with sitting perilousness appears to be six. Studies show that sitting for six hours or more a day increases the death rate in men by twenty percent, and forty percent in women, compared to their counterparts who sit for three hours or less.
Sitting is such a common behaviour. Many of us sit at breakfast, commuting to work, all day at work, at lunch, commuting home, when we get home, eating dinner, and then to relax on the couch; all before going to bed to lay down for hours, to do it all again the next day.
While sitting is a problem, the real problem is with a lack of movement. Sitting (and a lack of movement) causes the electrical activity in the body to drop, which leads to a range of harmful metabolic effects. Our body’s ability to burn calories slows down and insulin efficiency drops, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes. The enzymes responsible for breaking down lipids and triglycerides also plummet, which causes the level of good (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol to fall, increasing the risk of obesity.
For years I suffered with a painful sore neck and tight upper back. Sitting only amplified the problem. As I was studying and teaching at the time, I was spending a lot of time working on my laptop and reading textbooks. In 2013, in my final year of study, I started using a stand up desk. It was the best thing I did.
Why It Was The Best Thing I Did:
- Increased electrical activity and blood flow.
More blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients to your body. That means better mental clarity - improving your decision making and enhancing your ideas.
- Improve your health.
While exercise is still important and standing should incorporate moving; standing as opposed to sitting boosts your metabolism and burns more calories.
- Create natural break times.
Your eyes need rest from looking at a computer screen; however, most people don’t recognise when their eyes need a break. As a result, people push through and their eyes suffer. It is much easier to recognise when your legs need a break. Listen to your body and when you feel like you need to sit down, use the break to rest your eyes too.
- Improve your posture.
Most people can’t maintain good posture in a seated position for long. Sitting prompts hunching over and curving the spine. Standing is an easier position to hold good posture.
- Eliminate pain.
The curving of the spine and poking of the neck in a seated position forces muscles to hold unnatural isometric contractions for hours on end. The abnormal positions load up muscles in ways they can’t handle, causing pain.
- Increase your productivity.
Achieving the five points above results in greater productivity. The biggest impact on productivity though comes from the increased break times. A five minute break every thirty to sixty minutes might sound like a lot but your increased productivity as a result, will mean you will get more done at the end of the day.
The more you sit, the greater your risk of developing lifestyle diseases and even death. Standing to work improves your health and enhances your productivity. Search for ways to reduce your sitting at every opportunity and move more. Standing to work is just one way to achieve this. A regular physical exercise regime, including stretching, is also necessary.
How many hours do you sit for? Use this calculator to measure. If you spend more than six hours sitting, what actions can you take today to halve that number?
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