Common Activity Shown To Be As Harmful For Health As Smoking
If I told you that smoking cigarettes was shown to be bad for health, you probably wouldn’t be surprised. Likewise, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that eating fast food for every meal is bad for your health. But sitting? Could it be that sitting is as harmful for your health as those other activities? New research shows that it can be.
Read on and I’ll explain the ins and outs of how too much sitting can be harmful. I’ll also give you some simple ways in which you can transform the sitting that you do into something more healthful.
The Trouble With Sitting
Of course sitting isn’t all bad. But the trouble is when you sit too much. And it turns out that the average American man is sitting way too much.
Think about this for a moment. Heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and many of the diseases and health conditions that are so common today were virtually unknown a mere century ago. While there are certainly many factors contributing to the rise of those health problems, there’s good reason to believe that too much sitting is one of them.
A hundred years ago and before our ancestors were much more active. They didn’t sit nearly as much because their lifestyles dictated that they move more. Whether they were farmers or laborers of another kind, most were doing a lot more moving and a lot less sitting.
But today the average American man sits for a whopping 10 hours every single day. And some men sit for even more than that. Moreover, men today are sitting for much longer periods of time than were our ancestors.
Our lives are much more convenient today than our ancestors’ lives. But it comes at a cost if we remain too sedentary. Our lifestyles allow us to sit while we drive from place to place and then sit much of the time while we are in the places we’ve driven to. Unfortunately, new research shows that the more men sit, the more at risk they are for developing degenerative disease.
Remember that I told you that the average man is sitting for 10 hours per day. But researchers have found that sitting for just 8 hours per day increases a man’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 90 percent. And in general, sitting for that long increases a man’s risk of all kinds of diseases similar to smoking a pack of cigarettes daily.
The good news is that research also shows some extremely simple things that you can do that can offset the harm of too much sitting. Let’s take a look.
How To Sit And Be Healthy
For years experts have been telling us that in order to be healthy we have to do lots of exercise. They’ve encouraged running, resistance training, tennis, swimming, and other such activities. Some of those activities are healthy, of course. (Others, like a daily long distance running habit, as I’ve written about previously, are not so healthy.) But the trouble is that if you sit for 8 hours at a time and then go to the gym twice a week, the 8 hours of sitting per day still put you at risk.
So what can you do to improve your health? Research shows that if you do this one thing, you can dramatically reduce your risk of developing health problems even if you sit a lot. That one thing is to take more frequent breaks and move for at least 5 minutes every hour.
For a man who works at a desk, the solution is to get up and walk around for at least 5 minutes per hour. So, for example, that can look like taking a single 5 or 10 minute walk each hour. Or it can look like two shorter breaks per hour.
The exciting thing is that research shows that doing so not only improves your health. It also improves your productivity. The more that you sit, the less creative you become. But when you move, along with your heart getting healthier, your brain gets healthier too. Studies show that men who take more frequent breaks to move are more creative and productive.
But there’s no reason to stop there. Research also shows that the less you sit, the healthier you can expect to be. So here are some tips for how to sit less.
- If you work at a desk, try a standing desk. Studies show that standing desks can significantly improve health. Standing uses more muscles, improves blood flow, and increases cognitive performance.
- Whenever you are sitting, whether you’re watching television or sitting at a desk, get an exercise ball to use as a chair. Exercise balls requires that you use more muscles to stabilize. That offsets much of the negatives of too much sitting.
- When you are talking with others - whether for business or pleasure - whenever possible, make it a walking conversation.
- Use a timer to remind you to take regular breaks throughout your day in order to take short walks.
Do these things and you’ll see massive improvements in your health.
Of course that doesn’t mean that you should never sit. Short periods of sitting are normal and healthy. But long periods of sitting every day are not.
The more frequently you move, the better you’ll feel, and the more you’ll want to move. Try it out and enjoy the benefits.