Experts recommend getting an average of eight hours a sleep a night. Eight hours is a large part of your day, and you would think that lying in our beds sleeping is the activity we spend the most time doing every day. In reality, we spend on average almost nine and a half hours sitting down every day. Between classes, work and sitting down in front of Netflix before bed, we spend almost 10 hours a day on our behinds. Sitting down may seem pretty normal or natural, we’ve been doing it since kindergarten, but it is far from good for the body.
Sitting down for a single hour can decrease fat burning enzymes by 90 percent. Just because you worked out today, or ate well doesn’t mean you are going to lose as much weight as you think if you spend the rest of the day sitting in class or a cubicle. Sitting can have a negative effect on your health whether you exercise or not. Sitting down and living a sedentary life is a major health problem. Obesity-related illness kills more than 35 million people a year in the United States. Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for death in the world according to the World Health Organization. Sitting down is also linked to higher cholesterol, and increased propensity for Type Two diabetes, and kidney disease.
The human body is built to be upright for a reason. Our hearts, lungs, and vascular system all function optimally when we are standing upright. Sitting down also compromises our lungs ability to take in air. Our breath becomes shorter and less efficient, which leads to higher levels of stress hormones present in the body. Our lymphatic system which is responsible for keeping us healthy and free of being sick is a passive system. It has no way to circulate other than gravity and moving your body. Our gastrointestinal tract also works efficiently when we are standing up, not sitting hunched over.
Sitting down for most of the day can lead to tight hip flexors, which limit power production through any hip dominant movement, which includes most of the ones we do at the gym. Our body works like a freeway. When there is traffic tightness in one part of the body, it backs up the kinetic chain.
Kelly Starrett, a prominent physical therapist and gym owner, is an expert on how the body moves. He is leading a movement to put standing desks in kid’s classrooms. Standing can help improve focus in young children and keep them more interested in what they are learning The first trial is going on right now in his children’s elementary classes. Fixing the problem early on is important for changing motor pathways our body develops after years of sitting down.
These standing desks can be the easiest way to combat sitting down. It doesn’t take long to get used to and can cut down on the time you spend sitting down by hours every day. Taking periodic walks is another good way to break the monotony of sitting, and help combat the health issues that come with it. Standing can also burn 25 percent more calories than sitting, which is another great reason to be on your feet more.
Sitting down in a rigid plastic chair is something that is unavoidable in our society. Chairs have been around for a millennium. Our ancestors used to squat around a fire and tell stories about hunting and conquest. Today, we sit in big comfy chairs eating processed foods and are slowly shortening our lives. Get off your butt and do something, or else you may pay the price down the road.