Sitting is undoing all your hard work

posted Sep 8, 2014, 1:21 AM by Rebecca Smith
Our lives have evolved to satisfy our need to find the easiest and most convenient way to do things. Cars, microwaves, frozen food, fast food, couches, computers, shopping carts and other electrical appliances all allow us to outsource any physical activity we need to do. Life is easy. But easy isn’t necessarily good.

Our bodies adapt to the demands that are put on them. When you are in the gym you are pushing your capacity and forcing your body to adapt and change. A change you want greatly. Yet those changes may be sabotaged by chronic low levels of physical activity for the rest of the day.

When the body is only asked to perform low level physical activity it adapts. You lose muscle, lose flexibility and mobility, and lose cardiovascular fitness, your back starts to hurt and you gain weight. Your body is capable of doing a lot more and not just to get you up from your desk to your car and to your sofa.

Movement is the language of your body. It needs movement. I’m defining movement loosely as I want you to know that any and all movement is good. Walking, running, weights, yoga, stretching, tennis, golf, gardening, house work, painting, chasing after your kids. All better than sitting.

Movement and exercise do a lot more than just burn calories. Stop thinking about calories burnt when you exercise and start thinking about all the good that this exercise is doing your body. Each time you exercise you are telling your body to change and adapt. Telling your body, I expect and want more from you and you should morph into a more resilient and healthy body.

Time for me to rattle off some stats

- Each additional hour of daily television viewing time each day was associated with an 18% higher chance of cardiovascular disease mortality in 8800 Australian Adults (Dustan et al. 2009, Television viewing time and mortality).

- In 17,000 men and women that reported sitting for most of the day, the chance of having a heart attack was 54% greater than those that didn’t (Katzmarzyk et al. 2008 Sitting time and mortality from all cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer.)

  • Men and women who reported sitting for greater than 6 hours a day in their leisure time had a 20% higher chance of mortality (Patel et al. 2010, Leisure time spent sitting in relation to total mortality in a prospective cohort of US Adults) 
  • You get the point. This post isn’t to say quit your jobs and go work on a farm, but to introduce you to the idea that you and your body needs to move. 
  • From now on movement and getting sweaty are not a chore or an annoyance but a chance for you to let your body do what it is meant to do. A chance to move the blood around your body, get your heart pumping and the muscles working. You will feel better for doing so. 
  • How to incorporate movement into your lives 
  • Walk every day for 30-60 minutes. Take your loved one or your dog and walk. Enjoy being outside. 
  • Standing workstation (desk). Maybe not an immediate solution but look into it. Ask your boss he or she may be more interested in it then you think. 
  • Get up from your desk every hour. Set an alarm or reminder and every hour, get up, walking around, chat to Vicky and grab a glass of water then return to your desk. It may not seem like much but it can be enough to help halt the curse of sitting. 
  • Dunstan et al. (2011) found that intermittent sitting resulted in lower blood glucose levels and insulin levels compared to continuous sitting. This could mean a reduced risk of developing diabetes. 
  • Start the day with some movement. 2-5 minutes of jumping jacks, rolling around on the floor, push ups, planks and some stretching can be a great start to the day. Place a tally on your calendar for every day you do it and try to improve your longest streak. 
  • When you’re watching TV use the ad breaks to move around, tidy some of the house, bust out a few more bodyweight squats, work on your push ups, just move. 
  • Look for ways to get movement in. Carry your shopping bags to your car, squat your kids, take the stairs and try and take them 2 or three at a time. 
  • Sit on the floor or other furniture items, not a chair. This change of posture and body position will be good new stimuli for the body. 
  • Stand when you’re in a waiting room 
  • Come to the gym more. It’s opened 6 days a week. Make some time and come train. Each session will only help you achieve your results. 
  • Drink more water. It will keep you hydrated and has a handy benefit of making you get up and go to the bathroom more often J 
  • Buy a pedometer and make a game of getting in steps. Challenge your partner, children or friends. 
  • Find different modes of exercise. Go do some ice skating, tennis, basketball or dancing. 

Try some of all of these. See what you like and how it makes you feel.

The main message I want you to get for this is that movement is what you need, and anytime you move you are doing you, your health and your body a good service. More movement, better results.

Get moving,


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