Remember when you were a kid in school and you couldn’t sit still? Minutes passed by like hours as you watched the clock, waiting for recess to arrive. That antsy feeling settled in because you just needed to get up and move around. You would find yourself going crazy, thinking, “If I sit in this chair any longer, I’m going to die!”
There is something to those thoughts you were thinking. Sitting still for too long has profound effects on one's mental and physical health. We were never meant to live a sedentary life.
Adverse Side Effects
The adverse side effects of a sedentary lifestyle are detrimental. The President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition reports that “only one in three children are physically active every day. Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day. Only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
When we sit for long periods of time, gravity begins to set in and slow down circulation which can cause a buildup of fluid in the lower legs. If you have been sitting for hours you should elevate your feet for a period of time before laying down or going to bed. This is because the fluid that has built up in your legs can migrate to your head and neck causing swelling. Sitting or lying down for long periods slows blood flow through the body which can lead to the formation of clots and embolisms in the body.
The medical establishment has known for some time that a lack of regular exercise can lead to many chronic diseases. Natural News details how “bones, like muscles, require regular exercise to maintain their mineral content and strength.” Inactive persons increase their risk of colon and breast cancer, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and respiratory ailments, while inactivity can lead to a suppressed immune system which wreaks havoc on the entire body. Natural News reports:
- 20% of all deaths of people 35 and older were attributed to a lack of physical activity. That's more deaths than can be attributed to smoking.
- Looking at specific diseases, the risk of dying from cancer increased 45% for men and 28% for women due to lack of physical activity.
- The risk of dying from respiratory ailments was 92% higher for men and 75% higher for women.
- The risk of dying from heart disease was 52% higher for men and 28% higher for women, all due to a lack of physical activity.
As far as brain health is concerned, the hippocampus in the brain is our memory center and as we age it deteriorates. Being sedentary can increase this process. The Global Source for Science News states “We now know about 300,000 cases of dementia could be prevented each year if everyone lived physically active lives.”
With inactivity comes the loss of lean muscle tissue and as a result it makes it more difficult for the body to maintain a healthy weight. When we sit or lay on our fat cells the added weight of our body encourages them to produce more fat - compared to when we are standing. Amit Gefen, Ph.D., a biomedical engineer at Tel Aviv University in Israel outlines that, "When we sit or lie on fat cells, they produce more triglycerides, the type of fat that can raise stroke risk”.
The act of moving our bodies on a regular basis works the muscles and ligaments and can massage tissues and organs in the body while pushing oxygen to these areas. Movement also increases the flow of lymph through the body.
Just 30 minutes a day of light cardiovascular exercise can increase your health. Activities like walking, swimming and biking are great means to promoting a healthy lifestyle.
7 Tips You Need After A Day of Sitting Still
- Schedule a time to exercise and stretch daily.
- When you are stationary for long periods of time, set an alarm to get you up and out of your seat every 30 minutes.
- Do walking meetings. When you are talking on the phone use this time to walk.
- You could get a standing desk.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park farther away in parking lots to get added exercise daily.
- Turn TV time into workout time. If you are going to watch TV use this time to do lunges, sit ups, burpees or other physical exercises.
Getting moving doesn’t have to be hard; simple acts of discipline will pay off long term for your health and well-being.