Like so many others I too spend Monday through Friday sitting down at my desk, plucking away at my keyboard, staring at the computer screen. Sometimes even working through my lunch or staying an extra hour or two to complete a project. The average time I spend sitting at my desk a day is anywhere from 8 to 10 hrs. That comes to 3,394 hours in a year or 141 full days a year spent sitting. With the arrival of television, computers, and the desk job we are sitting down more than ever before in history. Moving from one chair to another; from our car seat, to our desk chair, to the couch in front of our television, we are increasing our chances of death up to 40% within 15 years, and that’s even if you exercise! Our bodies weren’t built for sitting down so much and as evidenced it is starting to show in our expanding waistlines, bone deterioration and decreasing energy.
So how does sitting wreck your body?? When you sit, your muscles are relaxed, and enzyme activity drops by 90% to 95%, leaving fat to camp out in the bloodstream, and your calorie burning drops to 1 per minute. Within a couple hours of sitting, healthy cholesterol plummets by 20%. After 24 hours of sitting insulin effectiveness drops 24% and the risk of diabetes arises. A study published in the American Heart Association’s Journal Circulation showed that people who watched TV for at least four hours a day were 80% more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those who watched two hours or less, and 46% more likely to die of any cause.
For some of us, the majority of our seated time is spent at our office desks, and while it would be beneficial and personally more enjoyable to have a job that allows you to move around constantly, this is not always the case. So what are some ways you can overcome this unseen disease that is silently destroying your body. For starters get up off your chair as often as possible and walk around, stretch out your back, arms and legs, walking burns 3 to 5 times more calories than sitting does. So get out for lunch, even if you brought it with you, take a short walk around your building during your lunch break, go for a 30 min cardio session if time allows, make frequent trips to the bathroom, (after all you should be drinking enough water that you will need to). When you need to ask a coworker a question, get up and walk around the office to their desk instead of sending them an email or shouting, when you are waiting for your computer to boot up or if you are listening in on a conference call, take that time to get up and walk around your office space. When you stand you recruit specialized muscles designed for low-intensity activity—muscles that are very rich in enzymes. The lipoprotein lipase enzyme grabs fat and cholesterol from the blood, burning the fat into energy while shifting the cholesterol from LDL (the bad kind) to HDL (the healthy kind).
While activity during the 9-5 is essential and good for you it should not be a replacement for getting in the gym or outside for some exercise! I know you had a long day at work, but sitting on your couch in front of the TV is only going to make things worse for you! Those who sit in front of the TV are 64% more likely to die from heart disease. In this day and age there are TV’s on cardio machines and everywhere in your gym, so you can still watch the Monday night football game or The Bachelor while doing your cardio! So out with the excuses!
Healthy bodies come from a combination of having a healthy diet, exercise, and healthy lifestyle. So, drink lots of water, eat clean, exercise, and get up and move around, these things will help you maintain your energy and feel good throughout the day when you have no choice but to work the 9 to 5 grind. And so what if your co-workers look at you funny when you are stretching at your desk, show them this article; it may just get them up and off their butts too! It’s our daily lifestyle choices that allow us to live happier, healthier more prosperous long lives, so let’s all make a conscious decision every day to make an impact on our health for the good and increase our chances at life.
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