The dangers of sitting
Does this daily routine sound familiar to you?
Your alarm goes off around 7am and begrudgingly, you roll out of bed and set about getting yourself ready for work. Once dressed and fed, you jump in your car or onto public transport and make the usual commute to work.
You walk a short distance to your workplace and sit at your desk; and there you stay until lunch time, when you might perhaps walk a short distance to the kitchen for lunch, or if you’re lucky, to a café outside the office.
You’ll then sit most of your lunchbreak and return to your desk where you stay until 5pm when it's finally time to commute home, scoff some dinner, sit on the couch and watch television for a few hours before heading to bed to recharge after a busy day.
Have you ever added up how many hours a day you spend sitting and not moving?
Are you sitting for too long?
Most of us including office workers and even physios will spend a great proportion of their working day seated.
In fact, more than 72% of Australian's spend a very large proportion of their day sitting, which is referred to as sedentarism, a physically inactive lifestyle which is characterised by both too much sitting and too little exercise.
Sedentarism is strongly linked to several of the chronic diseases that contribute the most to our global burden of disease, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
A recent University of Sydney study found that adults who sat for 11 hours per day or longer had a 40% increased risk of dying over the next three years, compared to people who sat for fewer than four hours a day. That means that 72% of Australian's have a 40% increased risk of dying early! And from something as simple as sitting down too much.
Is sitting bad for your health?
Obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, low energy, poor diet, high blood pressure, depression, and most of the other conditions we associate with an unhealthy lifestyle all go hand-in-hand with a sedentarism, so it is of the upmost importance that we try and change this negative pattern in our lives.
Luckily for us, it is a relatively easy pattern to break; all we need to do is make a few small changes here and there to break the sedentary cycle, such as;
- Parking further away from the office, catching public transport, or better yet walking or riding a bike to work
- Using stairs instead of elevators and escalators
- Taking regular breaks and having a quick walk around the office, and/or taking a long walk at lunchtime
- Standing to take phone calls or have a standing desk installed
- Exercising before or after work
- Trying to limit daily television viewing
- Getting enough sleep (at least 8 hours), which will not only combat a whole serious of other potential health problems, but also ensure that you're not too tired to move throughout your day.
Just a few small changes is all it takes to begin breaking the cycle of sitting, and once those sedentary habits are broken it will become easier to ensure they never return.
Remember – we were once humans that hunted, gathered and fled from sabre-tooth tigers, and since that time our genetics have not changed all that much. We are born to move and it is clearly detrimental to our health if we ignore this natural requirement. In today's modern world, while we are no longer in danger of those immediate natural threats, it seems as though we are faced with a much more widespread and potentially more detrimental danger of sitting.