Sitting too much
How many of us work at a desk job? How many of us spend far too much time sitting on the couch, period? Why are the experts now comparing sitting for too long to being equal to the dangers of smoking? Well, let’s take a look at these questions and see how we can work through them. The first question is probably one of the more common reasons for sitting for extended periods of time. So, we sit in the car to get to work, only to walk a few steps to the office door, maybe needing to take an elevator to our designated floor, and then getting settled at our desk for a day of productivity, right? Wrong!!!!!
Productivity can be subjective depending on what our jobs entail. Sometimes, work and productivity lead to boredom quickly in the workday or it could lead to a feeling of being in the a hamster wheel, running in circles and getting nowhere, quickly. Depending on where we live, our drive may be short or very long. Longer commutes add to our workday and our stress levels, which combats our desire to be healthy. Then, we are so tired and stressed, that after we grab some food after work, which may not be a healthy meal, then we sit and watch television for a couple of hours to “zone out.”
According to Laskowksi (2020), sitting for prolonged periods of time expends lower amounts of energy than standing or walking. Sitting for too many hours each day also helps to increase our blood pressure (another malady we don’t want), and our muffin tops (again, a malady we don’t want). So, how then do we take charge or this new hazard that is interfering with our health and well-being? Well, one recommendation is to move around every 30 to 60 minutes. Another good piece of news is that when we add 60-75 minutes of moderately intense exercise or activity, we can combat the dangers of sitting too much (Laskowski, 2020). We also gain the benefit of higher energy levels.
So, the link to sitting too much and having an equivalent on our health to smoking, is that we tighten the physiological muscles and tendons in the lower body, making it more difficult to remain flexible and agile. We add weight we do not need, including the dangerous weight around our midsection which can lead to onset type 2 diabetes if not monitored, we increase our blood pressure and our blood sugar levels, and we overall diminish good health. The workplace and our managers also need to recognize that workers must be able to move around more freely every 30 minutes to combat health risks, in turn, leading to health issues, increased absences from our jobs, and decreased productivity.
The takeaway here is to set reminders to move, to stand while we talk on the phone, to work from higher surfaces or obtain a standing desk, giving us more options, and to include the 60-75 minutes of moderately intense activity while also including exercises focused on stretching the pelvic area. Exercises such as the fire hydrant and stretches including the hip flexors are important. As part of our lower body workout options, there is an intense workout, which is low impact, but will fit the moderate intensity level, that can help you with this issue. Remember, sitting includes the time while we eat, the time in the car, the time at our workplace, and the time on the couch.
As we head into the holidays, indoors more frequently, we need to remind ourselves to move, to watch our diets, to stay hydrated (which is harder in colder weather if you prefer coffee or tea), and to monitor portion sizes. Remember, what you do today impacts tomorrow and beyond and we need to make every effort to maintain flexibility, to maintain our health and to reduce our risk of injury, risk of limited lifestyle options, and increased risk of disease. Have an amazing day and remember; stay healthy, stay hydrated and stay focused.
Laskowski, E. R., MD. (2020, August 21). Sitting risks: How harmful is too much sitting? Retrieved November 12, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq-20058005