Wake Up - Sit, Eat Breakfast - Sit, Drive To Work - Sit, Get To Work - Sit, Go To Lunch – Sit, Drive Home – Sit, Get Home - Sit, Dinner – Sit, Relax – Sit. This isn’t a Health & Safety Department remix attempt to “Swimming Pools.” Nope, this is my lyrical description of our daily condition. This song is funny, but not too funny since it correctly describes so many of our lives to a T. The American Journal of Epidemiology estimates that the average American adult daily spends 60% – or upwards of nine hours –engaged in sedentary activities, aka seated. Even if you’re active five days out of the week for one to two hours each day, compare that with your time spent chilling and you’ll see sitting is the biggest block of your day. That’s 10 active hours per week vs. 63 sedentary hours! The real question is do you think your 10 hours a week of exercise is effectively combating that 63 hours spent just doing you?
In order to comprehend the severity of the situation, we must know what actually happens when we sit. According to Dr. James Levine, inactivity researcher at the Mayo Clinic, immediately following us “copping a squat,” our bodies reduce energy expenditure via relaxing certain muscle groups. Here it is in a nutshell: after sitting our body significantly reduces the electrical activity of muscles—one-third less, compared to walking—lowering caloric burn to less than 1 calorie per minute. A second study in the Journal of Vascular Biology concluded that following two weeks of six hours of sitting a day the body will change, increasing: fats or triglycerides in blood stream, levels of LDL or bad cholesterol in the body, and our resistance to the effects of insulin aka the cells energy usher. This resistance to insulin transforms into the body’s inability to use converted food as energy and precedes a number of health issues like obesity, heart disease, and pre/type-2 diabetes. These are just some of the metabolic issues, and don’t forget the physical ones—weak leg muscles from lack of use, tight hip/back muscles from an unnatural position, lower back pain from relaxed core muscles, Varicose veins, and Deep Vein Thrombosis to mention a few. There are a host of problems for your internal organs that occur from being compacted under the weight of your body while seated all day, and you even increase your risk of anxiety and depression. Even though a seat is everywhere you turn these days, here are some tips to release yourself from its deadly ways:
Stay Active, Stay Strong,
James F. Thomas, M.S., B.A., ACSM EP-C, SFGII, BLS
Joshua Gray, BS, CSCS. NASM CES, USATF 1