Research suggests that sitting around for too long has real negative, physical effects on the body. They actually named a new medical condition called “sitting disease”. People are getting sick from sitting around. Your parents weren’t wrong to tell you to move those lazy bones for one reason or another.
Because of its sedentary nature, prolonged sitting has been linked to a number of conditions including high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, and blood sugar abnormalities. Research has also placed people at increased risk of developing cancer and cardiovascular disease.
I have no doubts that sitting and sedentary lifestyles lead to premature death. I use the example of people living in “Blue Zones”. These select areas across the world have the healthiest and longest-living people. Individuals commonly live past the age of 100. They have some of the lowest rates of cancer, dementia, and heart disease in the world. One lifestyle characteristic common among the 5 blue zones is consistent, moderate physical activity throughout the entire day until bedtime.
I’m not saying that people from the blue zones are running marathons, but they are actively engaged in walking, biking, gardening, and other physical activity. They walk where Americans drive. They pick and cook their foods where Americans, again, drive – and pick up their already cooked food. So, the message is clear: KEEP MOVING! Now is a great time of the year to start that exercise program.
February is my favorite month, in terms of nice weather, here in the Phoenix area. This is a time to be outdoors as much as possible with the sun on your face. Instead of sitting, stand or walk. Ride a bike with your spouse or kids. If you have to work at a desk, get an adjustable-height desk that you can raise up and work standing. Take a stretch break every 15-20 minutes and stand up from the chair and pump the legs a few times.
At the end of your day, try a yoga pose called viparita karani, or the legs-up-the-wall pose. As the name suggests, you place your butt up against the wall with your legs straight in the air. Try and stay in the position for at least 10 minutes. It’s supposed to help increase circulation and reduce the swelling from all of those stagnant fluids that have pooled in your lower legs throughout the day.
Remember to take breaks from prolonged sitting. Eat good quality foods and exercise when you can. And have fun!
Stay safe and be well,