Sit and Go to Pot

We’re aware of the things that are bad for us – smoking cigarettes, drinking too much alcohol, eating fast food every day. Another thing to add to the list is excessive sitting.

This is a hard one. It’s impossible to avoid and is something we all do (I’m sitting right now as I write this post). But being aware of why sitting is bad for you will go a long way to us making a little effort to ward of its ill effects.

First – why is sitting bad for us? We all get aches and pains from sitting too long, falling into poor posture especially as we hunch over our computer screens. We also aren’t exactly doing our body favours as we slump on the couch to binge-watch Netflix, either. Sitting for too long can lead to several life-threatening illnesses. To name a few – blood clots, heart disease, cancer, and fatty liver disease. (Prevention Magazine “Stand Up for Your Life”)

You might think that there’s a correlation between sitting for too long and being fat (and there can be) but being thin doesn’t spare you from these conditions.  David Alter, chair of cardiovascular and metabolic research at the UHN-Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, told Prevention magazine: “When you’re sitting, you’re burning only half the calories you would standing or walking lightly,” he said. “Lack of movement affects how we burn fat and metabolize sugar and the body’s response to insulin.”

Despite what you might see on Instagram where it seems everybody is a fitness model, only 18.7% of American women meet the federal guideline for physical activity which is 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio exercise a week, according to Prevention.

The good news is that moving more doesn’t have to mean a big lifestyle change. The main trick is to stop how long you sit in one seat. The goal should be replacing at least two seated hours with movement breaks – which can be done in spurts. Walk around the office or house when you take that phone call. Take the stairs instead of the elevator when going to the parkade. That sort of thing. The minutes add up.

It’s also an idea to be aware of how you’re sitting. Make sure you have proper alignment. Don’t slouch or slump. Adjust the keyboard or the chair to help you make these changes. Some people swear by their stand-up desks (the jury is still out on these as they can also lead to other problems such as back pain).

Just make sure you move to get the blood flowing. Even if it’s just a little because every movement counts.