Once upon a time we happily, or not so happily, sat at desks and were in search of the ever elusive perfect chair that would make sitting for hours and hours more comfortable.
We then traveled home (most likely while sitting) and made our way to the couch where we’d veg out after a hard day’s work. We might break up our couch sitting to transition to the table to eat dinner, or not.
If we had kids, we'd have a lot more moving around to do before we'd finally got to collapse on the couch. Regardless, you get the picture.
A few years ago research magic happened and word got out that sitting for hours and hours was bad news, very bad news, for your health.
Even though I was very fond of my chair, and my couch, and enjoyed parking my butt in them for hours and hours, I had read enough and couldn’t pretend not to know what I now know about the evils of sitting for hours and hours. And yes, sometimes I really hate when learning interferes with my ability to be blissfully ignorant.
In case you’ve missed out, here are some highlights for you. Extended periods of sitting (think only 6 hours of total sitting time a day) can lead to:
- Decreased bone density as a result of decreased weight bearing
- An increase in insulin resistance
- Short, tight muscles, especially shortened calves, hamstrings & psoas muscles – short, tight muscles can lead to increased joint friction, wear & tear
- A change in the geometry of your blood vessels, which can change how your blood cells interact with the walls of your blood vessels, leading to increased wounding and increased plaque (think rolling a bowling ball down a straight hallway vs. a curved corridor, the bowling ball will bump into the walls of a curved corridor, causing damage to the walls, your body lays down plaque to repair damage to the walls of your blood vessels)
- Decrease in the activity of a fat burning enzyme lipoprotein lipase, which helps to break down the circulating fat in your blood so your muscles can use it
- And last, but certainly not least, prolonged sitting (yes, they mean more than 3 hours a day, only THREE!!) is associated with death, especially death from cardiovascular disease. “Recreational sitting, as reflected by television/screen viewing time, is related to raised mortality and CVD (cardiovascular disease) risk regardless of physical activity participation.” Check out this article from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology
If you think that the hour you spend at the gym every day makes up for those hours of sitting, I again hate to be the bearer of bad news, but research totally disagrees with you. You can't undo the damage caused by hours of sitting with regular exercise. In other words 6 hours of sitting - 1 hour of exercise ≠ health.
Are you standing up yet?
As part of my stand more, move more, personal health campaign, I invested in a super, duper ultra fancy standing work desk. Brace yourself, you’ll want one of your very own.
Ta dah!! I know, you're totally jealous :)
Want to improve your health and live longer? Join me in standing more and, more importantly, moving your body more. Let’s face it, our bodies weren’t designed to be in any position for hours and hours at a time, whether it’s sitting or standing. Break it up, vary your position, walk around, get outside and walk some more if you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere where you can. Our bodies were designed to move, a lot, so let’s get to it!
Want some extra reading on the evils of sitting?