Why Sitting Too Much Could Kill You
Take a seat. Take a load off. Take years off of your life? Many of us delight in our sloth, albeit occasionally, or are unapologetic couch potatoes. We love to sit at a PC surfing or playing video games like World of Warcraft or Diablo. But while finding and slaying dark Lord Diablo is fun, always sitting on your butt isn’t healthy. Hours of sedentary sitting may be slowly killing you. Sitting down - hour after hour - can be truly dangerous to one’s health.
Sadly, we created the problem. We live in a sitter’s world. We sit patiently during class in grade school as kids. We fidget mightily in our chairs in high school anxious to cut the next level as hyperactive teens. The sitting scenario is repeated in college, and again into the realm of office work and many other jobs. Workers like bus drivers, airline pilots or cab drivers have no other option than to sit, but the rest of us can choose not to take that seat when offered to us.
What’s the price we pay for sitting so much? In a word, it’s scary. Here’s what Marc Hamilton, Ph.D., one of the foremost experts in the study of inactivity research and sedentary time, says about firmly planting one’s buttocks for hours. “Sitting is the new smoking - it’s just as insidious… You’ve seen the flat line on an EKG when all the doctors rush in? That’s what’s happening to your leg muscles when you’re sitting.”
So, what’s the answer? Sit less, stand more. Easier said than done, for some of us perhaps, but we can all take a stand behind standing and choose to sit less often. In fact, in a real way, status can equal exercise. Barry R. Chi, MD, chief of medicine and rehabilitation at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, offers, “Standing for two hours can be the equivalent of going for a two-mile run.”
When you’re on a crowded bus or train, don’t fight a fellow passenger for a seat - merely stand. While waiting for your morning commuter bus or train, don’t fill up the bench with another butt, stand around, walk a little and wait. Starbucks and Cosi coffee shops have couches, chairs, and tables without seating. Choose the last option, while reading your Kindle and chugging a mocha latte.
We can never entirely avoid sitting. However, limiting our daily sitting to only when necessary can be achieved. Use a standing desk at home or workstation at the office. Elevate your legs and feet in a recliner, or just prop up feet and legs with pillows. Sitting for long periods of time is a dangerous, possibly health damaging habit, but like any habit, it can be traded in for a better one. Start standing more. It’s a habit we should all try to adopt.