Growing up, if my mom caught me sitting too long, she would say, “Erin, get up and move, you’re going to get Secretary’s ass!” No offense intended to “secretaries,” but my mom is not one to sugarcoat anything, and..she was right. If you sit too long, you can’t and won’t look good. You also won’t feel good. And now research even shows that you will age faster and die sooner. ( I’m sure I’ll be getting hate mail from secretaries, but since we are ALL basically “secretaries” today and sit behind a computer, I figured it was okay! )
A huge study published in the January edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that SITTING TOO MUCH is associated with increased rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Also, the sitting/increased mortality link is an independent relationship and does NOT depend on how much a person exercises. This means that not only should you exercise daily to maintain good health, but that you need to get up and out of your office/living room chairs throughout the day. Do chores, do jumping jacks, go for short walks, run up and down the stairs for a minute, walk the dog, walk to the store, throw a snowball, etc. You might have heard the term, “Active Couch Potato?” Active Couch Potatoes are people who work out every day, for about an hour or an hour and a half, but then spend the rest of the day on the couch or in an office chair. The Active Couch Potatoes, despite their daily workouts, are still hurting themselves by being on their butts too much throughout the day. Active Couch Potatoes also often complain that they can never lose weight, and it’s because, despite their daily workouts, they are still sitting too much to make a significant change to their bodies.
Let’s pretend you don’t care about heart disease or diabetes but you REALLY CARE about how young you look. Well…, quit spending money on products that falsely claim to reduce all of your lines and wrinkles, save your money, and just get up and out of your chair! Another recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that sitting too much is linked to SHORTER telomeres. Specifically, the study showed that, despite exercise amounts, those participants who spent less time sitting had longer telomeres. LONGER Telomeres are associated with reduced aging, younger-looking skin, etc. Telomeres are segments of DNA on the ends of chromosomes that protect the chromosomes from damage, so the longer, the better. (Size matters.) Hence, your beauty tip for the day is : GET OFF YOUR BUTT!
SO HOW MUCH SITTING IS TOO MUCH? From the research I read, you are sitting too much if you are sitting 7 hours a day or more. Unfortunately, because we are such a plugged-in, computerized society, EVERYONE at ALL ages is sitting a heck of a lot more. An interesting self-check might be to time how much you sit, every day, for a week, to see your average weekly “sitting time.” You might surprise yourself. If you find that you are sitting more than 7 hours/day, you may want to considerer adding bursts of activity throughout your day. If you’re reading this and thinking, “Ummm, I work in a cubicle and have to type on a computer all day long…,” maybe consider mastering the art of typing while standing. OR replacing your office chair with a big balance ball, so at least you move around a bit. Either way, you should do something, because sitting is killing you. 😉