As booty campers, we do a great job of exercising and keeping our bodies strong. However, the time we spend at our desks, behind the wheel and on the couch can be harmful to our health. Prolonged sitting is not what nature intended for us. Sitting for long periods of time exerts pressure that we’re not meant to sustain. The average person spends 64 hours per week sitting. That’s more than 9 hours per day of sitting, no matter how active the person is otherwise.
As modern as our world is, we still have the same basic bodies that we had thousands of years ago. Our bodies were built to move. The human body functions best when it stays in motion. Muscular contractions occur when we are standing and trigger processes of sugar/fat breakdown. That’s the good news. The bad news is that these contractions cease when we are sitting. Sitting also suppresses lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that is essential for turning bad cholesterol into good cholesterol. Excessive sitting has been linked to obesity, diabetes, stroke, some cancers, back pain and depression.
The bottom line is that the more we can move all day, the healthier we’ll be.
So what can we do? Many of us have jobs that require sitting. Here are a few suggestions, from the easiest (those over which we have the most control) to the hardest (those that may depend on our bosses):
- Take the stairs. If your building has an elevator, eschew it for walking up and down the stairs.
- Walk at lunch. Use part of your lunch hour for movement, the other for eating.
- Keep track of your daily movement with a pedometer.
- Get up from your chair, part 1. If possible, for every 20 minutes of sitting, get up and move around for 2 minutes. This can be getting up to get water, going to the copy machine, heading to the bathroom, etc. You can set an alarm on your phone.
- Get up from your chair, part 2. Standing stretch. Stand up. If you’re wearing heels, kick them off. Reach your hands above your head and reach your palms towards the ceiling while bending slightly backward. Take several deep breaths.
- Get up from your chair, part 3. Giant lunge stretch. Step back with your right foot and lower into a lunge position. Raise right arm out to side and bring it overhead. Repeat 2-3x per side.
- Walk and talk meetings. Instead of meeting with someone in a conference room or a coffee shop, go for a walk instead. Walking is good for the brain, too.
- Standing desks, exercise balls for sitting or treadmill desks. These are generally dependent on the company, but company’s tend to notice when a somewhat small expenditure lowers health costs. (www.lifespanfitness.com and www.staminaproducts.com have standing desks and treadmill desks.)
Regular, daily activity keeps us all healthy. Stand up! It’s good for you.
-Contributed by Trainer Michelle