Mankind first started to walk the Earth hundreds of thousands of years ago. Over the centuries we evolved to use tools and fire, build homes, speak languages, create art and all the other amazing evolutionary advancements that brought us to modern man. In many ways our technological advancements have supported our development.
However these advancements may also be threatening our health and wellbeing. It wasn’t that long ago, before these technological advancements, that we used to be on our feet for about 14 hours a day, sitting down for 2 and sleeping for the remainder. Today, the average person sits for 12 hours, stands for 4 and sleeps the remainder. Many of us struggle walking up 4 flights of stairs, let alone keeping active and on our feet for 14 hours!
So How Are You At Risk?
Our modern designer world encourages us to sit at every possible moment. At work many of us sit in front of a computer or at a desk, we sit when traveling in a car, train, bus or plane, we sit for our meals and at the end of the day we relax by sitting to watch television or read a book. It may seem like a relaxing and healthy way of taking each day, however as Dr James Levine, co director of the Mayo Clinic and the Arizona State University Obesity Initiative points out, it may well not be. In his book ‘Get Up! Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It’, he demonstrates that this sedentary lifestyle, that many of us have adopted, is actually contributing to many serious health issues in the general American population.
We all know that lack of exercise can contribute to weight gain, but it’s not just people who are carrying a few extra pounds that are putting their health at risk. The human body is supposed to be active by design. When you sit around all day, your normal body functions, such as the production of hormones, stop functioning as they should. This leads to lower immune systems, poor circulation and ultimately some pretty nasty illnesses such as high blood pressure, heart disease and cancers, not to mention the effects it can have on your mental wellbeing.
What Can You Do About It?
There are many ways in which we can adjust our lifestyles so as to reduce the risk of health issues that can be caused through prolonged sitting.
Here are a few simple steps you can try and incorporate straight away:
- Try and incorporate 30+ minutes of anaerobic exercise into your daily routine. This means getting your heart rate up and keeping it up! You can do this by going for a brisk walk, jogging, doing a set work out, or riding a bike.
- Walk to and from close destinations such as the corner shop, visiting a friend or even getting to work. If this is a little too far to walk, why not ride there? Not only will this get your body moving, keeping you fit and healthy, but you can enjoy some fresh air as well!
- If you work at a desk, try standing to work (or alternating between the two), there are now many different adjustable standing desks available for just this purpose. If this is not possible, try using a swiss ball and engage your core, alternating between subtle bouncing and rotation of the hips to keep your back muscles strong and to stimulate circulation within your body.
- Use your lunchtime or break time to go for a quick walk, perhaps walking somewhere different to enjoy your meal.
- Take a 5 minute break as often as you can to stretch out through your body, trying something new like office yoga, or even just getting up to do 20 star-jumps! This might seem a little funny, but if it is a choice between health and laughter or disease… I know what I would be picking!
Every Step Counts!
The more active your body is during the day, the more endorphins (happy hormones) you will produce, which means you will not only be healthier, you will also be happier AND more productive. So get moving, and keep moving, towards a healthier happier you!