The Health section of Good Morning America last week focused on a recent study which showed, among other things, that people are spending lot of time – prolonged time – just sitting around. Not that they aren’t doing anything during those times, maybe their working at the jobs, having a discussion with others, or just watching TV. Problem is they’re just not moving. I myself can fall into this behavioral trap. Why does it matter? Because it’s unhealthy! As the saying goes, “Sitting is the new smoking”. It seems that the Good Lord built us to move. Interesting isn’t it… most mechanical devices wear out more quickly when they are used. We, in essence, “wear out” when we aren’t used. So how do we fix the situation? Well, some people use a bouncy ball to sit on and some people have a stand-up desk. Let’s face it, in today’s technology-driven world, with computers, and cars, and elevators. There’s really no compelling reason to be physically active.
The interesting thing though, is that we can largely circumvent the ill effects of prolonged sitting by occasionally walking around. And the maximum “safe” time for straight sitting seems to be about one hour. At least that’s the time it takes for our blood vessels to adapt to sitting and go into a kind of dormant state. And that’s what we want to prevent by minimizing continuous sitting time. You see it’s all about the blood vessels. They feed every organ and tissue of the body. When they’re not working properly, everything else suffers. And preventing that is pretty easy. A recent study showed that just getting up every hour or so and taking a 5 minute walk (or about 250 steps) does the trick. That’s like a good walk around the block or two to three times around the floor of a typical building. This amount seems to reactivate the blood vessels. Personally, I like (maybe I should say, am willing) to take a walk down the hallway of the building where I work, go down two flights of stairs, come back up the other side stairwell in the building and return to my desk. That also gets in a bit of aerobic activity mixed in. And a great way to be reminded to get up and going is to use a fitness tracker, one that has a vibrating or audible alarm that goes off if you haven’t accumulated the proscribed amount of steps in any given hour.
Oh – here’s the other interesting tidbit. The bad effects of prolonged sitting can’t be undone by a short high-intensity activity. You’ve got to keep moving throughout the day. It’s like a garden, you have to tend to it regularly, you can’t just pull up the weeds once they overwhelm the plants.
The Lord made us in a remarkable way. Unlike man-made machines, the bodies the Good Lord gave us actually improve with use! Sorry – got to run – or more precisely walk – my Fitbit just rang!