When I woke up this morning I turned on my computer, sat down, and checked my email.Then, I cooked up some breakfast (fresh eggs with spinach, feta, and chicken breast) and proceeded to sit down and eat. After breakfast, I walked to my car and sat in it. When I got to my destination, I sat down some more. And after that, more sitting. When my day is done, I find myself at home sitting down to watch this week’s episode of Game of Thrones. Sit, sit, sit, I’m tired of sitting. In one day, I've easily sat down for over five hours. This is an insane amount of sitting and it bothers me when I think about it.
It is not uncommon for you to also be in a similar situation. I've dug up some research to show why it’s a problem that we are sitting so much. The first study I found that had sample size of 63,048 males ages forty five to sixty four concluded that:
…higher volumes of sitting time are significantly associated with diabetes and overall chronic disease, independent of physical activity and other potentially confounding factors
But the key takeaway from the study for me was that the daily sitting time that is associated with health decline is six hours. Of course, a variety of other factors such as exercise and eating habits are also associated with better health, but if you are sitting down for six or more hours a day, you should start looking into how you can sit less.
Your Brain Needs Body Juice
Sitting for long periods of time not only affects your physical health, it also affects your mental health too. Lower mental health (i.e., well being, bad feelings, depression, etc.) was found to be more common in this study of 3,500 people. If you think about it, it makes sense. When we sit down our bodies are dormant. The blood stops circulating in our legs, and our body in a sense simply shuts down. Our bodies were not made to be sitting down for as long as we do. If you are feeling like your brain is slowing down, it’s probably because your body is not active enough. That is something I've found to be true based on personal observation and experience.
My Grandpa Walked up Hills Both Ways to School
Originally, we were hunting, gathering, and consistently alert. It wasn't common for us to sit because if we did a wild boar could come by and that would be the end of our life. If we go back not too long ago — let’s say, 100 years — we didn't have things like the automobile or other forms of public transportation. Sure, we had horses back then, but we were nowhere near as mobile as we are today. Now we have food delivery so we don't have to hunt; a high amount of entertainment to make us lazy like three hour long movies; cars, subways, and other forms of transportation that takes us where we want to go while we just passively sit. This is all awesome, I'm not against any of it. I think it’s great that we have technology in our lives. The important thing to remember is that we have to use it, not abuse it.
Our lives are a lot more complex now. We are in some cases sitting more than we are sleeping. The British Journal of Sports and Medicine found that the average time spent in a dormant sitting position was nine hours! What is even more alarming is that this number is more than the average time spent sleeping: six and a half hours.
Please Don’t Die on Me
We wake up, drive to school or work, sit down in class, then drive back home and sit down and study or watch TV then we sleep. We are dormant too much. What can we start doing about it? I'm sure you've all heard that exercise is good and so is eating right; yes, those things are important, but my solution is something you actually are already doing. You just need to do more of it.
The solution is simply walking. That’s it. Walking. The benefits of walking are immense, and by adding a little more pep in your step each day, you will see improvements in your physical and mental health. All you have to do is take the road not taken when you can. Walk to the store when possible. Park your car far away from the Super Mex, I mean Veggie Grill, instead of ten feet away. You can walk a lot more each day when you think about it.
Let’s break down how walking is more helpful than you might think. To begin with, your natural calorie burn while sitting is one calorie per minute. Once we start walking, that one calorie burn per minute is three to five times higher.
Here is another interesting insight from a recent study about people who regularly run versus regularly walk. Running burns eight times more calories than sitting down, so you would think that running is a better workout. But that’s not entirely true. 33,000 runners were compared with 15,000 walkers over the course of six years and the following implications were made: regardless if you were a runner or a walker, there was roughly the same improvement in health. The main difference was that runners experienced the calorie burn and weight loss faster than the walkers. What does this mean? You don't have to be a runner to get in tip top shape. You can be a walker — it will just take you longer to burn calories than a runner.
Three More Ways to Kick Sitting in the Butt (get it?)
Stand your Ground
Use a standing desk. Standing desks are great and you don’t need to burn your wallet to buy one. You can easily make your own for as little as $22. I find that a standing and a sitting desk is preferable since you don’t want to be sitting or standing for long periods of time. Now someone just needs to make a sleeping desks and I can be productive full-time.
Walk with Friend(s)
Having a walking buddy is a good idea to make sure you both stick to your daily walks. It’s best if you're walking with a buddy is local. It’s counter productive if you have to drive for thirty minutes each to walk with someone.
Can you Walk AND Talk at the Same Time? (video)
Whenever you have the opportunity to, walk and talk with someone instead of sitting. I do this when I go on dates. Being a single guy, I take a girl out for a meal when I have the time (and money). After a meal, I suggest a walk around the area we are in. Walking and talking is a good way to get to know someone. I am an upbeat walker, but I also am flexible and adjust my walking pace with whomever I am walking with. By the way, did you know that your walking style can be associated your personality?
I’m Done with this Post
Thanks for reading. I’m going for a walk now.