Designed to move: Why sitting is killing us?

October 16th 2017  |   in Health and fitness   |   6 min. read

Photo by Sho Hatakeyama

To wild animals, movement is not a chore, not a temporary punishment for being physically lazy and out of shape, not an optional activity just for better looks.

Erwan Le Corre

Today, we are living a lifestyle which encourages sitting due to the majorities of office jobs and driving jobs. Despite the fact that we are spending more time in “boxes”, especially during cold seasons, sitting (too much) is destroying our health. If this doesn’t scare you, then this will definitely do: sitting makes you fat.

The number one reason why prolonged sitting is bad for us is it is against our human nature. Human beings are designed to move. Human beings have evolved by moving, changing habitats, hunting, gathering, dancing around the fire, building, climbing, running, walking, lifting, etc. We are fat, sick, and degenerated, because everything we do nowadays is against our (human) nature. Dr. Marc Hamilton agrees with me at this point.

Your body is designed to move… Sitting for an extended period of time causes your body to shut down at the metabolic level.

Marc Hamilton

In other words, prolonged lack of motion decreases circulation, muscle, and bone, movement, which decreases cellular activity, which decreases energy utilisation, which promotes energy conservation, which promotes fat gain.

Research on British Journal of Sports Medicine editorial states that:
“Even if people meet the current recommendation of 30 minutes of physical activity on most days each week, there may be significant adverse metabolic and health effects from prolonged sitting – the activity that dominates most people’s remaining “non-exercise” waking hours.”

What this means is: regardless you go to the gym or engage in some vigorous activity 30-60 minutes a day, if the rest of the day you are sitting in one position, either on your ass, either in your fit, either in your head, either in your hands - “active couch potato”. No amount of exercise can undo the damages on your organs (and waistline) that prolonged sitting does.

Here are a few examples of damage prolonged sitting does:

In an article on The Washington Post, there is a nice graphic that shows the major damages caused by sitting. I may say, sitting does the same damages as excessive alcohol consumption and smoking altogether.

Another study reveals how prolonged sitting is associated with a 112% risk of developing diabetes, 147% risk of developing cardiovascular disease, 90% risk of cardiovascular mortality, and 49% risk of all-cause mortality (degeneration).

I’ve started to be more careful to the consequences of prolonged sitting since I developed back problems. One evening, I was on my computer working on a project and something did not go well, hence, I started to stress. When I stress, I tend to go small and bend over. This led to pressure on my vertebrae followed by big pain the following days. Since that day, I have incorporated yoga exercise for my back which I do every night before bed.

Sitting also made me have anxiety from time to time due to shallow breathing.

What can we do?

Stay active! I don’t know what else to say. You are aware of your lifestyle most. I am aware of the fact that if you are a student, bus driver, taxi driver, transporter your job is inhibiting you from moving, but remember that you don’t have to walk for miles or do any sorts of complex exercises. You just need to change your position as often as you can. Just standing up is suffice. Every little thing matters, remember that!

For example, when I am at the office or home working on my computer, or reading, or doing anything that involves staying in one position, I set a timer on my phone to move every 30 minutes.

Again, no matter if you stand up or sit down, it’s the same effect. I am referring to standing desks because they are a new fashion now. They are a big startup, though, because when you are standing, it’s almost impossible not to move around. On the other hand, when your sitting on the sofa or chair, you are restricted from changing position.

The main idea is, if you want to be healthy, young, and fit, you need to move every 20-30 minutes, no matter how hard you work at home or at the gym. You need to do what you were genetically meant and have evolved to do. Work with your body, not against it!

If you want to dive more into this topic and learn more about the science behind sitting and moving, follow the white rabbit and read Dr. Joan Vernikos, book, Sitting Kills, Moving Heals: How Everyday Movement Will Prevent Pain, Illness, and Early Death – and Exercise Alone Won’t, and James A. Levine’s book, Get Up!: Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About It

Further reading:

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