Are you sitting down?
“Are you sitting down?” is a question often followed by news expected to buckle your knees. They want you sitting so they don’t have to worry about you falling over and hurting something valuable, like a lamp or a sleeping cat.
Well, I’ve got some bad news you may want to sit down for. No. Wait. That may not be the best idea.
Sitting down, it seems, is very bad for your health. Indeed, it may be killing you.
If you sit too much, you may very well have “sitting disease,” the newest scourge in your fight to stay alive and semi-functioning. At least that’s according to an article in the August edition of Runner’s World entitled “Is Sitting the New Smoking?” by Selene Yeager. I couldn’t find a link to the article, but click here to get a visual idea of the issue.
I read the article. Of course, I was sitting.
It made me squirm, which was good, because there is nothing worse than being an inactive couch potato.
Then I did some investigative journalism. There are a lot of articles on the web about sitting and dying. Wow. Who knew?
I started to pace. Maybe that was the idea.
But I had to get back to the risky business of sitting so I could finish typing information about how much danger you are all in by sitting and reading this blog post.
I’ll be brief, so you don’t have to sit too long and gunk up your internal organs and allow more fat to settle into your butt while you read how sitting will do that to a person.
The article said that the human body was designed to move. Maybe not like a shark; we do need to rest. But sitting for 10 hours straight on our butts is just asking for trouble.
Even the athletically inclined who exercise for the recommended “a lot” of minutes per day have to keep moving when they’ve stopped moving to avoid the guaranteed and dreaded conditions that come with relaxing after their workout:
1. heart disease
2. the Big C: cancer (and probably cellulite, too)
4. varicose veins and your legs could fall off completely
6. Dowager’s Hump
7. obsession with game shows/reality TV/reruns/computer games/blogging/fill in the blank
8. stained clothing from spilling food or drink while distracted by above obsession
9. the Big O: no, not orgasm! Obesity
10. Unsightly and uncomfortable skin creases from tight clothing and pursuant rashes and chafing from adjusting said snug garments
IMPORTANT CAVEAT: The article only mentioned correlation, not causation. Does over-sitting cause all these horrible health consequences or do these health issues arise from, say, eating too many Subway Double Meatball Marinara with Cheese Foot-long sandwiches (1,720 calories and 20 meatballs), making a person really feel like taking a load off and resting? I couldn’t help but point that out. I am, after all, a trained social science researcher.
Here’s what they suggest to live a long healthy life (besides running 100 miles a week). I may have added my own suggestions to this list, but just to be helpful:
1. Donate all of your chairs to some organization that holds events for people who are so far gone that sitting a few extra hours won’t make a difference anyway.
2. Replace your chairs with a stability ball. You will be doing both “active sitting” and “active picking yourself up off the floor”–both very good exercise.
3. Buy, at great cost to you, an adjustable desk–or work at a kitchen counter–so that you have to work standing up. Your efficiency will improve. If you go with the cheaper kitchen counter solution, be prepared to know how to run the coffee machine and microwave. This may interrupt your work flow, but having multiple skills is never a bad thing in today’s volatile job market.
4. Develop a regular stretching routine every one to two hours. Lunges, side and forward bends, and giant step stretches are what the article recommends. Good luck if you work in a cubicle.
5. Use an alarm set for every hour to remind you to get up and walk around for five minutes, whether at home or at work. Make sure the alarm doesn’t have a snooze button and that it is in another room so you have to get up and turn it off. If you are easily startled, like I am, choose an alarm that won’t scare the living crap out of you. You are trying to prevent a heart attack, not cause one.
6. Buy, again at great expense to you, a treadmill that can support a lap top. Rather than walk to work, walk and work. If you live or work in a small area, you may have to move. But isn’t that the whole point?
7. While sitting, fidget. I know this goes against everything your parents yelled at you for when you were growing up, but do it. An active couch potato is better than a dead couch potato. Even your parents should agree with that.
Well, I wish you all good health as you bustle around trying to avoid sitting. The one exception not mentioned in the article is sitting on the toilet. You kind of have to do that. Just don’t take too long in there. You really don’t want that throne removed and replaced. Squatting and aiming correctly takes the kind of skill and strength that decreases with age.