“Sitting is the new Smoking.” So should you really take a stand?
So, here you are, making me feel great again as you read this post towards the end of another ‘eventful’ weekend. Or maybe, after hurriedly signing off from Netflix. Or you’re mostly sipping your coffee in your couch or in your office ‘throne’ right now.
Oh, we do deserve the weekends. Because, ‘Why Not?’ We work our asses off the entire week. Don’t we? Well, quite literally. Right?
For the only perturbing reason that it’s just the 2 B’s of our body at work these days – the Brain & the Booty.
Most of us have bumped into, “Sitting is the new Smoking” at medical seminars, from a motivational speaker or at least through various posts on the Internet, just like this one! This new adage has been coined by Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic, Arizona. The edifying expression is more than just an intriguing research. Dr. Levine has successfully explained the association of a sedentary lifestyle with magnified risks of obesity, heart diseases, cancer of the liver & colon, & Type-2 Diabetes.
We never realize how murky passive smoking is, until it starts fouling our lungs up in the form of dreadful respiratory ailments. And so very similarly, we don’t really contemplate sitting with any health dangers except for hopelessly relating it to a weak stamina, laziness or most obviously, ranting about our work!
Most of us, nowadays, happen to be DJ’s A.K.A ‘Desk Jockeys‘. And isn’t there something that makes us super-proud about our 9 to 5 jobs? The thing about sitting in an air-conditioned ambience from the time you log in to when you zip your backpacks to home. The only trips we make there are those to the pantry or the restrooms. Some of our colleagues take a little longer strolls to the smoking rooms or to blow that bothersome cloud out into the beautiful air.
Of course, you got here only after impressing your interview panel with your mettle! No qualms about it, my friend.
Well, I’m guilty too. Because throughout my time as a software professional, I had pretty restricted movements at office. My training sessions, too, didn’t demand much movement from me, even while assisting my trainees in their projects. Haha, all thanks to TeamViewer! Even now, as I blog, I spend at least 3 hours a day on my laptop, on an average day. But, I’ve got ways to break from the ‘sitting’ shackles, which I’ll share with you a little later.
Here’s some statistical representation of the number of Indians suffering from osteoporosis against the predicted number of incidences with the major bone problem.
In simple language, Osteoporosis is a bone condition involving the loss of bone mineral density due to the lack of calcium & Vitamin D. While this condition was rendered common among the less physically active women in the previous decades, it’s, nevertheless, quite a common incidence among the youth today. Irrespective of their age or gender. People as young as in their early 30’s too face brittle bone issues, joint pain & other variants of bone problems. That’s also something that makes us appreciate strength training for our bone health. I, as of now, leave that for my next post.
I remember developing acute pain in my sole just upon stepping over the edge of my then toddler’s toy (unknowingly, of course!) 3 years ago. At the same time, I had this maddening pain in my right knee which used to jolt me every time I had to kneel down. I couldn’t but visit an orthopedist. While most of the pain was described as muscular wear & tear with some inflammation, my reports on Vitamin D were crazy. Surprisingly, I had very low values of Vit D, to which I was advised generously about the need of sun exposure & exercise of any kind. At that time, I couldn’t stop blaming myself for being so negligent about my health. You see, motherhood, often catapults you into having a spree of “I-don’t-care-about-myself-It’s-OK-I’m-big-enough-to-handle-things” thoughts.
What I’m trying to say is pulling off a life wherein you’re just sitting around your place because you’ve got all the gadgets to do the stuff for you, can make you feel old really very soon.
To me, the perfect ageing process is about ‘getting wiser while always feeling young’. And a life full of you sitting in some cozy furniture turns it into the exact opposite! You just get dumb, lazy, immobile, cranky, frustrated & finally age prematurely.
So, are we made for sitting?
We, the modern humans, or the Homo Sapiens first appeared about 45,000 years ago & our ancestors definitely led a highly active life that involved hunting for survival. Nonetheless, as we evolved with our skills to cook, cultivate, weave & build things, the hues of sitting eventually crept in. It’s no secret that we’re still evolving. However, our sacral region of the lower back contains vestigial remains of the tail. And our ancestors would’ve never found sitting all day on their tails quite comfortable!
Moreover, the various spinal deformities that arise upon postures pertaining to bending the back before the computer screen are enough proof that we certainly aren’t made that way. At least not for sitting 8-9 hours a day! Makes sense, huh?
How does sitting all the time screw us up?
- REDUCED BLOOD CIRCULATION, which leads to cardiovascular diseases, hypertension etc.
- REDUCED BRAIN ACTIVITY, causing us to get forgetful, mentally exhausted, irritable & often brain-fade.
- OBESITY. Sitting continuously in a given posture crashes your B.M.R (Basal Metabolic Rate) making you burn only 1 calorie per hour. This often triggers fat accumulation around & below the abdominal area, aka larger bottoms which are not always appealing to you. Are they?
- DIABETES. At present, India, unfortunately, is the Diabetes capital of the world.
- RADIATIONS. Many of us are aware that placing laptops on our laps throws us into the jaws of dangerous radiations, which somehow find their way into the vital internal organs.
- OSTEOPOROSIS. Brittle bones
- PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME (Wallet Sciatica) Men, who happen to sit with their fat wallets in their rear pockets often face compression of the sciatic nerve, causing a terrible, radiating pain along the buttock towards the leg.
SO, are we just gonna complain?
The good news is, “OF COURSE, NOT!”
Try these to nullify the damage sitting could do to you:
That’s right. Sitting for long hours in the same posture can drive your brain crazy. Sleeping sound for at least 6-7 hours helps undo the possible damage.
STRETCH & TWIST
Remember to stretch your neck, shoulders & forearms every 40 minutes of sitting. Set an alarm if you won’t remember to. This will help revive nerve activity & cause normal blood flow around the body. Keep stretching & folding your legs. Sit with your footwear removed & rotate your feet in the clockwise & anticlockwise directions every half an hour.
WILL STANDING WORK, INSTEAD?
NO. Just like sitting continuously is bad, so is standing. All the more, it may lead to varicose veins.
OBTUSE ANGLES, PLEASE!
Try to get hold of a more flexible ergonomic chair, which lets you sit in an obtuse angle (130°), so that your spine isn’t ‘endangered’ anymore.
Most of the postures of Suryanamaskara are incredibly effective in fighting the ill-effects of a sedentary routine. Especially, the Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), Hastapadasana & Ashwa Sanchalanasana. The Cobra pose, particularly, sends your troubled spine into a state of euphoria.
No matter how busy you get, make time for at least 20 minutes of exercise every day. (Ah, not the weekends, if you want it so!) Because, more your motility, the less sitting can massacre you.
GROOM YOUR KIDS
Start early. Never try to pacify or entertain your baby/toddler/kindergartener with your mobile, tablet or laptop. Encourage them to get out of their play-pens, buggies or house-tents. Get them out of your home. To PLAY. Sedentary lifestyle is a banal imposition parents unintentionally make peace with.
Let’s now just put an end to working our poor asses off. What say, peeps?!