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Sitting Disease Is Real.

move more Feb 04, 2020

It's so common, it's almost a cliche´ - formerly extremely fit, high-caliber athletes who turn to fat when they retire.

I know.  I was one of them.  

What happens over and over is that an athlete or dancer (as I was) expends tremendous amounts of energy for years and usually has a caloric intake to match.

Unfortunately, although the activity stops after retirement, the food intake often doesn't.  And the sleek muscle they worked so hard for becomes jiggly, unhealthy fat.

But is that different from what many of us do on a lesser scale every day?

Think about how often you physically move in a day. If you honestly look at how you typically spend your day, you might be surprised to realize that the total time spent in real motion was surprisingly low. Chances are, you spend more hours sitting in the car, on your desk in the office and on the couch at home than you're aware.

Sitting Is The New Smoking

Doctors have determined that a sedentary lifestyle is a precursor to many of the prevalent health problems which Americans have today.  In fact, there is a new saying that has much truth in it, "Sitting is the new smoking."

Loosely termed as the “sitting disease,” researchers found that the typical American now spends more time sitting than any other activity, even sleeping. This lack of physical motion is considered a significant cause of major health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and depression. 

An Hour of Workout is Not Enough

This is why it’s important to keep moving all day, regardless if you have a regular workout session every morning: A study conducted in 2014 found that an hour of exercise is not enough to deter the negative effects of inactivity on health if the body spends the rest of the day sitting.

So let’s say you sweat it out for a whole hour every morning before you go to work, and then you spend the next eight or more hours seated in the office, and the rest of the day on the couch at home. Despite that hour in the gym, the sedentary remainder of your day essentially wipes out much of the benefit.

Your Daily Allowance of Movement

Think of physical movement as one of the nutrients which your body needs to acquire every day in order to stay healthy. Always ask yourself if you have had your recommended daily allowance of “movement nutrition.” Did I exert enough effort to move throughout the day, or did I just sit through the hours from morning until afternoon?

Keep in mind that the apparent opposite - standing for hours on end without movement, such as what happens with assembly line workers, hair dressers, and surgeons - is not healthy for people either.  These segments of workers tend towards varicose veins back pain, and even blood clots.  

Essentially, it is the lack of movement that is so harmful.

Below are some effective suggestions to help you stay in the move whether you are at home or in the office.

  • Walk more. Encourage yourself to do so by wearing a pedometer or fitness tracker which can count the number of steps you make each day. If you have dogs, wonderful!  If you're not used to walking, set yourself a goal to aim for, such as 10,000 steps in a week, and then adding more as you get used to the activity. 
  • Run errands on foot or a bike instead of hopping in the car. Riding a bicycle or walking will get you moving and help you burn more calories than simply stepping on the gas. It’s more environment-friendly too.
  • Take mini-movement breaks at work. Give yourself a five-minute break to do some stretching or any physical movement every 25 minutes.  SNAX* are fun and a perfect solution. Set an alarm to remind you if work gets too busy.
  • Dance to your own music!
  • Drink lots of water and get it from the refrigerator or water station each time. This will keep you hydrated and in physical motion whenever you stand up to get water. Win-win!
  • Use a headset when taking calls at work, and then pace while talking rather than staying seated. You’ll be giving your leg muscles their much-needed movement nutrition and your body could use the short exercise as well.
  • Cook your own meals, rather than ordering in or eating out. This way, you can make sure that your meals are healthy, plus you can burn extra calories from the effort of cooking (walking around the kitchen, slicing, chopping, washing vegetables, etc.). 
  • If you must sit, sit on the floor.  There are studies which show that the extra control needed to get onto and off the floor helps to strengthen muscles and increase flexibility.  

These are just a few suggestions to help you get into the habit of staying physically active. Remember that your body is meant to move, to walk, to enjoy the different actions it can do. 

*If you want to learn about SNAX (Short, Nuanced, Actionable Exercises) - to see what a customized plan for daily mini-workouts can do for you, schedule a complimentary session with David Allen at https://premierewellness.as.me/SNAX-30-minute-trial

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