How often do you sit during the day? Think about it. 5 hours? 10? 2?
We are a very sedentary society. We spend our time sitting in chairs, on the couch, in cars, at our desks. In fact, the average American spends 50-70% of his day sitting. That's up to 16 hours a day…sitting.
When I first read about this, I didn't believe it. Or I thought it couldn't be most people, no way. It certainly couldn't be me!
But then I looked at my own life and those around me and realized it is true! People are always sitting!!
I consider myself a healthy person. I am passionate about real food and healthy living. I exercise regularly. Yet, on an average day, I can be very sedentary.
I wake up and get my daughter ready for school. I sit by her as she eats breakfast talking about our day. I sit in the car as I drive her to school. I sit at my desk/couch/counter for writing blog posts, preparing lectures, testing recipes, researching articles on healthy living. I pick her up from school and drive her to her various activities…where I sit and wait. Then we come home, make dinner and sit some more watching tv or playing games. I may go to ‘workout' for an hour but the rest of the day is fairly sedentary.
Even on days when I am really ‘busy' with lots of errands, appointments, etc., I am still mostly sitting.
What I found is the more I sit…the more I sit. Does this make sense at all? The more sedentary we are, the harder it is to get up and move! In fact, one Australian study concluded that office workers “who spend high amounts of time sitting at work tend to spend high amounts of time sitting on non work days.” Sitting begets more sitting.
I decided to make a change for the better and get moving! I bought a standing desk and often march in place as I write my articles (doing it right now!). I started wearing a FitBit to measure my steps and am aiming for 10,000 a day. This has been a bit more challenging that I thought but I am still working on it!!
I have some other tips I will share at the end of this post with you too!
Why did I want to make a change? What is the big deal with being sedentary? What are the effects of sitting all day? Well, I will tell you…the effects are not good…not good at all!
Effects of Sitting All Day
It is pretty crazy how harmful sitting can be. Our bodies are not made to sit for long periods of time and we are experience the ill effects of sitting on a pretty serious level. We are getting sicker and sicker every year as a society and our lack of movement is one of the factors.
Sitting all day can lead to a variety of problems including:
- Weight gain
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Loss of bone density
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Weaker back muscles
- Pain in other parts of the body as other structures take the brunt of the work that the back muscles should be doing
- Increased back pain
- Increased risk of blood clots in legs
- Increased risk of metabolic syndrome
- Increased risk of becoming insulin resistant
- Raised lipid levels
- Reduced metabolism
- Toxic build up since the lymph system won't work as effectively to remove toxins
- Poor performance of our organs since they are not stimulated by our muscles during movement
- Increase of learning disabilities and decrease in potential to learn since the cerebellum is not being stimulated by movement
- Increase in certain cancers
- Increase in death from all causes
So, yeah, the effects of sitting all day are pretty scary. They sure gave me a kick in the pants!
Solutions to the Effects of Sitting All Day
What can we do about all of this? Of course, we could go on more walks, hit the gym and be less sedentary. But sometimes, our lives can make that difficult. Long commutes and desk jobs can force one to sit for a long time.
Here are some tips I have learned and am excited to share with you! Most of them can be implemented by anyone!
- Get a pedometer (I use a FitBit) to see just how little walking you do!
- Set a timer every hour on your phone and get up, walk around, do a few squats, jumping jacks, whatever.
- Park at the farthest spot of the parking lot and walk to the store.
- Get a treadmill desk, a standing desk or sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair.
- Walk on your lunch break or after dinner.
- Walk in place when standing in line or waiting. (I do this all the time. I am sure I look like a clown but who cares!)
- Take the stairs whenever possible. My daughter and I always say ‘healthy people take the stairs'!
- Get regular exercise each day, including strength training.
- Do a quick workout each day. You don't have to spend hours at the gym! This 16 minute workout can be fit into almost any schedule at home or in the office!
- Watching tv? Walk in place. Do some squats or crunches. Try walking lunges across your living room. Anything to get moving!!
What about you? How much sitting do you do? Do you have any other tips to keep moving? Would love to hear them in the comments!!