Over the past hundred years, society has evolved so much that most of us have time where we sit for hours every day. But humans were built to be physically active, not to sit for extended periods.
Evidence from a growing field of inactivity studies demonstrates that sitting for longer periods can be damaging to your health. Prolonged sitting increases risk of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat and elevated cholesterol plus an elevated risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. This is in addition to the physical damage caused by sitting, including weak abdominal muscles, neck strain and back problems.
When sitting our bodies go into energy storage mode. Our muscles stop moving and our heart slows down. The calorie burning rate drops to about one per minute, a third of what it is when we walk. Our bodies become resistant to insulin which can increase the risk of diabetes.
The key is to incorporate standing and walking into everyday activities. Try standing when eating or talking on the phone. Take a few minutes to stretch and move regularly. Walk and talk instead of having meetings at a desk. Go for a walk at lunch. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk or bike instead of driving. Try a standing or walking desk that can be placed above a treadmill.
Taking these get-active steps will make you feel better and have less unhealthy cravings. It will also increase your productivity by decreasing any tendency to “fall asleep“ in the daytime.
With the summer weather, there are few excuses, so get up and get moving!
(Article courtesy Zoomer magazine, July-August 2014)