We are in a society where nobody really moves.
From toddlers, teenagers, adults to the elderly, you name it.
Heck, nobody really gets injured the right way anymore. People suffer from pains and aches not from playing contact sports but from sitting down too long or picking up something off the floor!
Experts claim that more than half of the young adult populations in the UK aged between 16 and 24 years old live with neck and back pain. The statistics today have in fact doubled since 2014.
Something has gone terribly wrong.
They say sitting is the new smoking. Read on to find out more about the devastating effects of sitting and soon you too will agree with the equation: "sitting kills, moving heals."
Sitting Is Killing You
Dr. James Levine is the co-director of the Mayo Clinic and the Arizona State University Obesity Initiative, the inventor of the treadmill desk and also the author of the book, Get up!: Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It.
In his book, Dr. Levine explains to us that the nature of the human body was to be active and moving all day. The body was never designed to be crammed into a chair where all of our cellular mechanisms get switched off. He does acknowledge that we're supposed to rest from time to time, but that rest is supposed to break up the activity, and not supposed to be the way of life.
This is important.
Our ancestors were always on the move, hunting, exploring, foraging; and essentially their survival depended on good health and mobility. But today, most of us are sitting all day in front of our computers, tablets, phones and TVs, living a completely different lifestyle compared to our ancestors.
And you may ask "how is this relevant?"
DNA evidence today shows that the human genome has changed less than 0.002% in the past 40,000 years. This means that our bodies - when compared to our ancestors - haven't changed at all! So we're still designed the same way, but we're living against our design not as intended.
Dr. Levine states:
"The very unnatural posture [of sitting] is not only bad for your back, your wrists, your arms and your metabolism, but it actually switches off the fundamental fueling systems that integrate what's going on in the bloodstream with what goes on in the muscles and in the tissues... As a consequence of that, blood sugar levels are inappropriately high in people who sit. The blood pressure is inappropriately high, the cholesterol handling is inappropriately high, and those toxins, those growth factors that will potentially lead to cancer, particularly breast cancer are elevated in those people who sit too much. The solution? Get up!"
THE TRUTH OF SITTING DOWN
EXERCISE ISN'T ENOUGH
It's possible that after studying the infographic above, you may be shocked to see how deadly sitting can be. However, what makes sitting even more scarier is that it can actually undo the effects of your daily exercise regime.
Dr. Levine states:
First of all , if you go to the gym, that does do you good. In fact, that is a phenomenal dose-response relationship. The more you do , the more benefit you get. That does not, however, relinquish you from the responsibility of being active throughout the day or of realizing the opportunities to be active throughout the day.
The article "It Doesn't Matter How Much You Exercise If You Also Do This" from TIME cites a research from the Annals of Internal Medicine saying that:
The benefits of exercise can be blunted if you also spend most of the rest of your day sitting. The author goes further to comment that sitting too much - even among people who exercise regularly - led to higher rates of hospitalisation , heart disease and cancer, as well as early death.
So sitting down kills, there is no such thing as perfect posture and even exercise won't help.
Then what can we do about it?
BECOME A BODY IN MOTION
The evidence is overwhelming at this point -- 10,000 studies and growing - that prolonged sitting is devastating to your health. It actively promotes dozens of chronic diseases, including overweight and type 2 diabetes. As a general guideline, if you've been sitting for an hour, you've sat too long. Dr. Levine recommends sitting no more than 50 minutes out of every hour. But that's really a bare bones minimum recommendation. Ideally, you'd want to limit sitting altogether.
There are many innovative ways to fight against sitting. For example a standing desk. Given that most of us are forced to sit at our work, many desk-bound workers are turning towards creating their own DIY standing desk.
Simply changing your working environment is known to create profound health benefits. Dr Buckley and his team of researchers from the University of Chester says that "if you want to put that into activity levels, then that would be the equivalent of running about 10 marathons a year. Just by standing up three or four hours in your day of work."
Changing your working environment and habits from sitting to standing is just one of many things you can easily adopt to change the course of your life and health. Health and wellness is your biggest asset in life and it can only be earned through constant work and preservation. Make a conscious decision to be a better self and form healthier habits. And always remember, sitting kills and moving heals.