Many people spend the vast majority of their day sitting. Whether it’s working at a desk, reading, lounging or watching television, most of the tasks we’re called upon to complete every day don’t require full-body movement. This has become especially true since the pandemic shutdown, when people learned to function while staying home.
Even shopping, which used to be a regular physical activity, can now be done without getting up from your chair. And all this time spent sitting every day has led to an increase in something called Sitting Disease.
What Is Sitting Disease?
Sitting disease is a group of conditions combined – increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat, especially around the waist, and high cholesterol. These conditions all together are also known as metabolic syndrome. It’s easy to see why these conditions all together could lead to health problems such as heart disease and potentially lead to early death.
People who work a desk job, or those who are retired and enjoying a relaxing lifestyle, could be doing a lot of prolonged sitting. Recent studies show that this is potentially a serious problem with potentially serious consequences.
Why Is Sitting Harmful?
Scientists refer to the fact that for many thousands of years, a normal human life was active. From the earliest days of hunters and gatherers, an entire lifetime was spent performing physical activity. And after those earliest days, until about 200 years ago, about 90% of the world’s population regularly practiced some form of agriculture. To survive throughout this long history, people were built to move.
The sedentary lifestyles that became common in the 20th century are relatively new in terms of human development. And the advancements in technology that have led to even less need for physical activity have increased dramatically in just the last several years. Many people can now get through an entire productive day and never have to physically exert themselves. And scientists are now seeing the serious negative effects of sitting on people’s’ health.
What About Regular Exercise?
Even people who exercise regularly have an increased risk of sitting disease if they spend the remaining hours of their day sitting. This may be surprising, but the science says it’s true. It’s certainly better to exercise than not, but people must also make an effort to avoid sitting for long periods even if they’re generally healthy and even physically fit.
How to Avoid Sitting Disease
We all have times when we’re required to sit still to get work done. Or we may have times when we’re relaxing, enjoying a mentally stimulating activity, reading, or watching television. This is normal in modern times and can’t be avoided. But sitting disease can still be avoided with some simple and easy adjustments.
Simply take a break from your seated task every 30 minutes, or at least every hour. Stand up, stretch, walk around, go get a drink of water. If you move around for even five minutes for every half-hour you’re sitting, you’ll cut your risk of sitting disease considerably.
Better yet, if you can alternate between sitting and standing for equal intervals, say 30 minutes each, you can really boost your metabolism, increase blood flow, and vastly improve your overall health and well-being. If you need to meet with someone, see if your meeting can be on the move. Take a walk while you talk. There’s evidence that the metabolism boost of a walk can sharpen your thinking, problem-solving and creativity.
Adapt Your Environment to You
Consider using a standing desk, or a desk that can be raised to accommodate if you want to stand. You could work at a kitchen counter or cabinet that’s taller than regular desk height. Standing desks are becoming more common and accepted in the workplace. And if you work at home, you’re free to set up your home office as you like, so set it up with your long-term health and well-being in mind.
You don’t have to be working to get up and move around. Remember to move even when you’re reading or watching television. Set a timer for 30 minutes or an hour as a reminder to get up, stretch, move around, or just stand for a while.
The Benefits of Standing and Moving
It doesn’t take much effort to avoid sitting disease, and the benefits can be tremendous.
- Improve your posture and lessen back pain
- Reduce your risk of heart disease
- Increase blood flow to your brain
- Reduce your risk of osteoporosis
- Have an easier time avoiding weight gain
- Improve your balance
- Strengthen your muscles
- Improve your mood
The health problems of metabolic syndrome, now also known as sitting disease, haven’t been understood for very many years, but the evidence has quickly come into focus. Regular exercise every day is great, but it’s not enough. Remember, people were built to move. It’s easy to do, so make sure you keep moving, too.
Active Lifestyle at Heritage Senior Living
With so many services and amenities meant to keep our residents active, engaged and healthy, they never run out of things to do. Exercise rooms, walking areas, therapy services and more are all available, as is the expert staff to meet your every need.
Our commitment to innovation means we’re always aware of the latest science on health and wellness. We’re committed to providing our residents with the most modern information and techniques to maximize their health and wellness. Contact us to find out more.