Do you have any idea how many hours a day you spend sitting? I recently asked a friend that question and she was quick to respond: “Hours? Sitting? I don’t have time to sit around doing nothing!” I assured her I wasn’t accusing her of being lazy and explained that I was actually asking a very relevant question.
How would you answer the same question? Think about it. How long is your commute? How many hours a day do you sit at your desk? When you’re at home, how many hours do you sit while watching TV, reading a book, or working on your computer?
It turns out that my friend—like many people who took a recent survey—spends up to 12 hours a day sitting. When you add in all the hours you spend sleeping, that’s an amazing 19 to 20 hours a day of being physically sedentary. Your mind might be active during some or even most of this time, but your body isn’t.
This lack of activity has become such an issue that it has a name: Sit-itis Syndrome. This lack of activity can increase your risk for obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. And to make matters worse, there’s mounting evidence that even if you exercise for an hour a day, it won’t undo the damage that results from prolonged periods of inactivity.
Back in the 1950’s, there was a fascinating study done in England that compared the health of bus conductors who stood all day with bus drivers who sat on the job. Guess what they discovered? The sedentary bus drivers had double the risk of developing heart disease as the bus conductors who were physically active at work.
We’re becoming a nation of bus drivers—and that’s a scary thought! Fortunately, the solution to this sorry state of affairs is one you can implement today: Stand up and get moving! Up-to-the-minute research shows that moving more and engaging in any form of movement—including everyday activities like housework and even fidgeting—lowers our risk for disease.
A team of Australian researchers found that doing nothing more than taking extra breaks from sitting resulted in a smaller waist, reduced Body Mass Index and lower blood sugar levels after eating. The participants in that study made no changes to their diet. Just imagine what you can achieve when you combine more movement with a sensible eating plan like the one featured in The New Lean for Life!