[as seen in the Oxford Review September 27th, 2012]
Consider how many people have sit-down jobs. Then add in how many of us drive to work or take city transit. When we are done at work we often sit down in order to relax and maybe watch our favourite show. The problem with all this sitting while we work, commute and relax is that it really isn’t good for us.
Let’s be clear about one thing – too much sitting is killing us. That may sound like a harsh statement to make as my opening idea, but the truth remains. Never before in history have we worked so much while at the same sitting so much.
According to the World Health Organization, inactivity is approximately responsible for 6% of all the deaths that occur globally. In fact, a recent Australian study found that the more we sit the worst things get health-wise. It does appear that physical activity can help decrease this risk, and it is an important first step in mitigating that.
Looking at the details of the study, which followed 222,497 people, we find anyone who sat for more than eight hours a day increase the risk of an early death. In fact those who sat for 11 hours or more per day had a 40% increased risk of dying in the next three years compared to those who sat for four or fewer hours per day.
It seems that the risk of sitting and premature death is nonselective, which means that – it doesn’t matter who you are if you sit and are inactive you increase your risk of dying earlier.
I am sorry to sound overly morbid. But, I want to drive home the point that you cannot continue in your current behavior if you were sitting for eight or more hours per day. It just is not good for you. I can’t say it any other way.
There are a number of ways to sit less – like using a standing desk at work. One of the fastest way to increase your health or exercise is by simply taking a walk. I’ve included a couple things that walking does which is absolutely profound and wonderful. And you can start doing it today!
Shaking Things Up Getting out for a walk shakes things up (figuratively of course). The rhythmic pressure changes produced by walking mobilize and massage your internal organs. This occurs as your diaphragm contracts rhythmically with the abdominal muscles to aid respiration, as well as stabilization of the body, the result of which is a massage for your internal organs. The movement, pressure changes and improved fluid transfer keep the internal organs mobile and healthy, improving their physiological functions individually and synergistically.
Easy Metabolism Boost Walking is one of the most primal movement patterns known to man. Walking requires the integrated use of our arms, legs and torso. Hundreds of calorie-burning muscles are utilized by walking. Walking briskly on a daily basis not only results in the burning of calories, it increases enzyme activity and other metabolic activity.
Fluid Dynamics 101 Walking also results in the rhythmic contraction and relaxation of muscles as well as rhythmic pressure changes in body cavities. This results in improved circulation of blood, lymph and even synovial fluid (the lubricating fluid made in joints). Because much of your immune system travels through your body via the blood and lymphatic fluids, improving your circulation through daily walking can improve immune function, as well as your metabolism and health in general.
Time to Stand Up! It is time to stand up and talk a walk. Now that you know walking can aid in improving your metabolism, body shape, energy levels, mental clarity, and most aspects of your well-being, it is time to stop driving around the parking lot at the shopping centre for 10 minutes waiting for a spot to open up by the door! It is also time to stop riding elevators all the time, particularly since most of us need a lot more exercise! If you could use a little more vitality in your life, climbing a few stairs whenever possible will be a big step (literally) in the right direction.
As Always – Eat well. Stand up. And Smile!