When we get home from a long day on the job, the natural instinct for many of us is to plop down on the couch, and either catch up on our favorite TV shows, read a book or just sit and spend time with our families.
However, all those hours sitting, compounded with the sitting many of us do at the office, can really take a toll on your health.
One of the biggest factors behind chronic illness in this country – along with eating unhealthy foods and our massive consumption of sugar – is the sedentary, or mostly sedentary, lifestyle that many of us lead. While you may think it’s no big deal, research shows that even if you exercise, hours of prolonged sitting can be detrimental.
In a 2012 study published in the Annals of Clinical and Laboratory Science, the study authors summarize:
“A sedentary lifestyle is a very serious worldwide problem, especially in North America and Europe. Unfortunately, physical inactivity, which has progressively increased over the past several decades, significantly increases the risk of numerous diseases/disorders, including several forms of cancer, diabetes, hypertension, coronary and cerebrovascular diseases, overweight/obesity, and all-cause mortality, among others.”
The study authors add, “unless there is a reversal of this sedentary lifestyle, the incidence of these diseases/disorders will increase, life expectancy will decrease, and medical costs will continue to rise.”
This problem is so pervasive that Dr. Anup Kanodia of Ohio State University began using the phrase “sitting is the new smoking,” to illustrate the health risks associated with this behavior.
Along with a lower life expectancy and an increased risk of many chronic ailments, sitting for extended periods of time can lead to poor posture, is hard for the bones to handle, and can even lead to chronic joint and muscle pain, further compounding the cycle of sedentary behavior.
But what can we do if our jobs require us to sit down all day? Even taking short breaks from sitting, to stand and stretch or preferably to walk around, can help. If it is possible, talk to your employer about possibly implementing standing desks, or even treadmill desks, which have been a huge hit with many businesses.
Conscientious employers want their employees to be healthy so that they can have top productivity, and being able to move around on the job has had excellent results so far.
When you get home, as tempting as it may be to sit down, try to keep this to a minimum. If you want to watch your favorite show, try doing some stretches or yoga while you watch. If your family usually sits around when spending time together, consider exercising together instead, or playing an active game together, perhaps a sport or even a relay race.
Not only will focusing on being active improve your health and the health of everyone in your household, as exercise releases endorphins, chances are everyone will be happier, as well!
-The Alternative Daily