The generation before us was set up for failure when it came to smoking cigarettes. Information on cigarettes is readily available to us all now, making it relatively easy to not begin smoking. Our parents, on the other hand, had no idea. They were given no heads up that smoking would lead to the myriad of disease that exist in epidemic proportions in today’s world.
As young people, we should be good. Generation Y had the proverbial kitchen sink of education tossed at them. If you’re young and you smoke in 2015, that’s on you; the world tried to teach you otherwise.
But as the evil of smoking is slowly getting eliminated, another is beginning to poke it’s head in, and the culprit might be a bit surprising to you.
Sitting is killing us.
The amount of time we collectively sit as human beings is going to be the next epidemic that kills us.
Our bodies were not meant to sit for extended periods of time. And yet, when we work, we sit. When we seek relaxation, we sit down. When we’re tired, we sit to recover. The amount of sitting that most of us do is going to become a problem. It may not be one we’re dealing with yet, but rest assured, it will be.
Did you know the average American sits for over 9 hours each day?
That number is especially horrifying when you consider that most people sleep for at least 7 hours each night. Add those two together and you find that 66% of your 24 hour day is spent in a sedentary state. And that’s only the average.
None of us are immune to it. I’m sitting right now as I type out this post. The fact is, the world has been designed for us to sit as much as possible, and we likely take the opportunity every time it is presented to us without even realizing. Seats in the classroom or workspace require us to sit for social acceptance. Benches in the park beckon us towards them. When we gather for meals, we all take a seat around the table before we dig in. It wouldn’t be strange to think that you’ve never even thought about how sitting could affect your health.
Sounds kind of like the cigarette thing, doesn’t it?
The first step to remedy this problem is to look at how sitting can negatively effect our bodies. Education on the subject matter can create the compelling “why” we need to change, which is the precise formula the world used to prevent our generation from becoming smokers.
Let’s look at some of the inherent dangers of chronic sitting:
- Your heart and blood vessels are designed to function in an upright position. We adapted that way. By sitting, we are forcing our bodies to work in a manner that it isn’t used to.
- Decreased blood flow and circulation to muscles has been linked to killers such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Science is starting to get clear about one thing; if there is no oxygen or blood flow to an area of the body, you’re setting yourself up for problems.
- Decreased metabolism, causing things like HDL (our good cholesterol) to drop.
- Combining sedentary behavior with excessive caloric consumption is the fastest way to jump aboard the obesity epidemic
- Ever wonder why your back hurts after you sit for a long period of time? Well yeah, that’s going to happen if you let your hip flexors remain in a constant state of flexion and become overly tight.
We’ll stop there, but understand that there are more compelling reasons than the ones listed above. This blog is not meant to dissect scientific claims down to the bone, but to address things that may be taking away from our quality of life. Sitting chronically classifies as one of those things. If you’re interested in learning even more, you can easily find information online about.
Okay, so we’ve identified the issue, and provided some resources for learning more on the subject. Have you done any self-evaluation yet? Do you sit a lot? How often do you sit? When during the day is it taking place?
Do you feel like sitting could be compromising your health? Someone with a desk job that requires you to sit for 9+ hours a day may be a little bit more worried than someone who lives a more active lifestyle. The truth is, only you can really determine if sitting is an issue for you or not.
Based off your reasoning, you may consider implementing any of the following:
- Standing Workstations are becoming more popular in today’s world. I have not yet converted over, but am considering it in the near future. Side note, if you like the content on this website, MDA is another blog that you’ll enjoy.
- Walking Meetings are a great alternative in a work setting. Why not walk and talk? Science will tell you that increasing blood flow during conversation can allow for more creativity and improved brain function.
- START SQUATTING. One leg, two legs, whatever- just make it a regular thing. If you don’t squat on a regular basis, then your exercise regimen is missing the foundation that it should be built around.
- Use a mobility or stretching resource like MobilityWod. Kelly Starrett is a beast. If you find that you have back pain or tight hips, be sure to check out the “Couch Stretch” MWod. It takes 6 minutes. Hit that 7 days in a row and see if your back still hurts.. Spoiler alert, it won’t.
These options are just a drop in the bucket for what you could be doing. Put simply, spend more time standing and moving than you do sitting. It’s going to add healthy years on to the end of your life.
Yours In Motion,
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