Have you heard the phrase ‘sitting is the new standing‘? Or perhaps you have heard of ‘sitting disease‘? According to Martha Gogran, Cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic: “For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking”… ABOUT THE SAME AS SMOKING!?!?!
I don’t exactly agree with the above statement that sitting is the same as smoking. In my view, sitting and smoking are not really the same – smoking out right damages the body and quite literally kills. Sitting, on the other hand, needs a little more digging to understand the implications.
Why is there so much confusion about the sitting issue? It’s complicated because it’s never just one thing.
What we do know is that our lifestyles are increasingly more sedentary than even a few decades ago. Our ancestors were more physically active on a daily basis than we are. They walked everywhere, they hunted for their food rather the driving to the grocery store. Our grandparents didn’t have the option to order in food from the couch by the touch of a button. Even simple tasks like showering or going to the bathroom took more effort than just walking down the hall. Sitting impacts our body’s metabolic system, but it’s more about how a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Our bodies are breaking down from high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, cancer, depression as well as everyday pain complaints.
Adjustable standing desks appeared on the scene and have been claimed by many to be the magic answer. They aren’t. They can have an impact but just replacing sitting with standing for 40-45 minutes each work day doesn’t provide and measurable health benefits. What’s also interesting is that research suggests standing desk are giving a false sense of movement, so people who use them are cutting back on other areas of physical activity outside of work because they feel standing is an equal trade-off.
Let me be clear, I LOVE my standing desk -even before having one I used to stack boxes on my counter to allow me to stand and work on my computer because it helped alleviate back pain I felt when sitting. But this is all just further proof that it’s not just about the sitting as much as it is the whole lifestyle package.
Also meaning it isn’t JUST movement that determines our health- it’s everything we eat, drink, say, do, breath, think and how we rest and repair.
How does your body feel? Do you feel the way you want to feel? Take a moment to think about how your body feels throughout the day. Is your back sore? Is your neck stiff? Are your hips and shoulders tight? Now go a step further -are you burping, gassy or bloating? Tired and exhausted? Do you have a foggy brain? Rashes on your skin? Keep going – are you actually happy? Sad? A positive or negative thinker? How do you breath? Are you sleeping? Do you have something to look forward to every day?
Feel like I went a little deep there? That was my point. Yes, sitting too much can actually affect you but more often it’s the whole lifestyle (eating unhealthy foods, obesity, poor mental outlook or health, lack of community, excessive tv watching, lack of sleep, hydration and overall physical activity, perhaps even smoking?) that goes along with sitting that is the culprit.
Remember, small changes lead to giant strides in our health, but you have to take that first step! If you just make one change per month, imagine where you can be in 12 months!