We’ve known that smoking is deadly for a long time, and every year the world moves a little further away from lighting up. When we realised that sugar, when over-consumed can also be dangerous to your health, this caused another major change in how the world eats and drinks. But the latest potential killer on the block is harder to drop and it’s everywhere: sitting.
How did sitting become deadly?
The act of sitting isn’t dangerous; it’s doing it for long stretches of time, not getting up and moving around that does the real damage. Think about it: you probably sit in your car on the way to work, at the office you may sit through the whole day, even eating lunch at your desk! Then, you sit in the car on the way home, only to sit in front of the TV or computer until you go to bed. Maybe you break the day with a power-hour at the gym, but studies show that it doesn’t really make any difference – it’s just 1 hour of intense movement against about 14 hours of sitting in a day.
How exactly is sitting harmful?
One theory is that when we stand, certain muscles in our body work hard to keep us upright, which is good for our metabolism. When you sit for long stretches at a time, your metabolism is not working as well, leading to ill effects.
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 3 million people die each year from conditions caused by inactivity!
What conditions are linked to sitting?
The studies show that the biggest health risks associated with prolonged sitting are:
- 90% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Higher risk of breast, colon, uterine and ovarian cancers.
Make a change
While you can’t simply ditch your job or cycle to work, it isn’t difficult to change how much seat-time fills your day. The hard part is making yourself aware – putting stand-up-and-walk-around breaks in place, and sticking to them:
- Take the stairs
- Walk to the furthest water-cooler to fill your bottle
- Go outside to eat your lunch
- Get up and stretch every 30 minutes
- Drink more water
- Take regular loo-breaks
- Suggest ‘standing’ meetings (if nothing else, they tend to be short)
- Skip buying online now and then – walk around an actual shop.
We live in an age of incredible convenience, but there’s a downside: it’s chipping away at our health. So, find new ways to do life standing up.