Sitting is something that all of us do, and many of us do a lot more than others. Whether it is sitting on the commute to work, sitting at home, or sitting down to eat, there is no debate that inactivity is a popular thing. In fact, this can have serious impacts on our lives and on our bodies. What are the dangers of sitting?
The Dangers of Sitting in America
This is difficult to say because it varies widely between states. However, according to The State of Obesity, between 15% and 35% of people do no physical activity at all outside of their job. According the Department for Health and Human Services, less than 5% of adults get the recommended 30 minutes or more of exercise daily. And many more Americans have desk jobs, that require sitting for long periods of time. This can mean sitting at home, sitting at work, and sitting on the way there and back.
This is a lot of sitting, and can easily explain, at least partially, why America is becoming more obese as time goes on. This has gotten even worse lately, due to the massive rise in technology taking a lot of the walking out of our lives. But how does this effect our bodies?
How can inactivity effect us emotionally and physically?
While sitting my feel good at the time, there are a lot of negative effects that can arise from not getting your blood circulating for at least 30 minutes a day. For instance, according to the CDC, 300,000 deaths can be avoided each year if we exercised regularly and ate a healthy diet. That is a lot of preventable deaths.
Physical inactivity often correlates to bad diet as well. These two together can increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. Just a small amount of exercise each day is far better than none at all, and has the potential of saving thousands of lives.
One of the main health effects mentioned when it comes to sitting all day is a pulmonary embolism. Otherwise known as a blood clot that starts off at the legs, but then breaks off and gets to your heart.
When it comes to being sedentary, most of the emphasis is on physical effects to your body, and for good reason. However, there are a lot of emotional issues that can arise from a lack of exercise as well.
If you have ever taken a walk after a stressful day, you might have noticed that you generally feel better afterwards. This is due to what many call, The Exercise Effect. And because of it, many psychologists are starting to implement exercise into their therapy sessions.
Few studies have been done in a psychological framework to show the effects of exercise on mental health. However, the studies that do exist seem promising. Many show that exercise can help to reduce long term depression, and can even help to increase overall quality of life.
This is especially true if walks or exercise is done in a more enriched environment. The beauty of nature has a calming reaction of the human psyche, and as a result can make you feel happier and less anxious.
How to Avoid the Dangers of Sitting
1. Walk, not drive
Many people do not seem to know exactly how reliant they are on cars. They feel that since they have cars, they need to use them for everything, even traveling a mile down the road to the mini mart.
The best thing to do to counteract this, is to walk these small distances instead of drive. This not only gives you an excuse to call it exercise, but your body treats it like it is. Getting your blood pumping while going to the mini mart for a coffee is a great way to get in some much needed exercise.
2. Take the stairs
Elevators are commonplace in many buildings nowadays. And if there are no elevators, escalators exist to take the place of walking. However, not many people know the benefits of climbing even a small flight of steps. This trains your leg muscles, and also gets your heart pumping fairly quickly.
3. Get up often
Sitting down at a desk job is usually something that happens for hours and hours at a time, and can cause severe back pain, and worse. But just because you have a desk job does not mean that you have to be sitting for all those hours.
Take just 5 minutes out of every hour and walk around. Walk to the bathroom, or just to get some water. If you are just sitting at home, than walk to the mail box, or just go outside and get some fresh air and sunlight. These can help a ton with your mental health as well.
4. Park away from the door
A lot of people do not want to park too far away from the door at a job or a supermarket. As a result, you usually have a lot of people parking as close as possible, and almost nobody parked near the back.
That small amount of distance may not seem like much, but it does add up over time. Walking from a far away parking space to the store can back can add an extra 520 steps to your daily step count, according to Walmart.
Just Stand Up – Reverse the Dangers of Sitting
While the best thing to do would be to get 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise in a day, not many people are likely to follow that guideline. At least pointing out small things that you can do can get people motivated to do just a little bit at a time.
While it may not seem like it will do much in the long term, it is definitely lower your risk of health effects, and can even increase your emotional well being. So do a small walk, go outside a little bit, your body and mind will thank you in the long run.