Does one of these statements sound like you? I personally fall in the “I’m too busy” category so don’t imagine I’m here pointing a finger at you. Most of my blogs are actually written to me in hopes of ingraining more positive ideas into my psyche and in the process, I imagine I might help some of you too.
So today’s topic is about being sedentary. Defined as follows:
sed·en·tar·y- ˈsednˌterē/- adjective
1. (of a person) tending to spend much time seated; somewhat inactive.
synonyms: sitting, seated, desk-bound, stationary;
2. (of work or a way of life) characterized by much sitting and little physical exercise.
synonyms: sitting, seated, desk-bound, stationary
So, I think you get the point… we’re talking about sitting too much. I know we’re all intimately familiar with our current “normal” life styles. Many of us sit for a living in a way. But then when we come home from work, we often sit some more. Now let’s dial the calendar back about say 100 years.
Our ancestors were likely doing some sort of physical work all day. They grew a lot of their own food, so what they ate was fresh and local. All food was organic back then and cattle grazed freely in fields eating whatever mother nature provided. Cleaning the house was accomplished with things like soap and water. Toxic chemicals, plastics, microwaves and GMO’s didn’t exist. So back then, we moved more and our bodies were less exposed to toxins.
My cry of “Get moving people” has become more important to me through doing massage and energywork for the past 20+ years. I see clients every day and some maybe I’ve worked with for over a decade. Physical challenges come and go but as we all age, our abilities become more precious to us. I get to see clearly, day in and day out, the differences in how choosing a sedentary life affects your body. Muscles grow weaker and can’t support you as well. Body alignment changes by slouching in an office chair all day or in the recliner watching the tube at night. We gain weight then can’t understand why it’s so hard to lose. Eating healthier foods is a great step to improving your health but the real missing link is not getting exercise.
So back to my opening statement… I know you’re busy, you’re tired and perhaps you don’t like exercise. But do you like life? In an article posted by John Hopkins Medicine, being inactive can contribute to these health conditions:
• Physical inactivity may increase the risks of certain cancers.
• Physical inactivity may contribute to anxiety and depression.
• Physical inactivity has been shown to be a risk factor for certain cardiovascular diseases.
• People who engage in more physical activity are less likely to develop coronary heart disease.
• People who are more active are less likely to be overweight or obese.
• Sitting too much may cause a decrease in skeletal muscle mass.
• Physical inactivity is linked to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels.
With every drug we take to battle whatever health conditions we face, we’re adding one more chemical to our body. Those chemicals aren’t things our body recognizes which adds stresses as well as side effects to our already challenged health. On the other hand, if your physician offered you a drug that would help you avoid some cancers, relieve anxiety and depression, lower risk of cardio vascular disease, help you lose weight, build muscle, lower blood pressure and cholesterol… would you be interested? Oh and no side effects AND no cost?
Of course, with all those healthy “side effects,” why do we not want to move? It’s just habit but such a bad habit and I just wanted to remind you how bad it is for your health when you choose to remain sedentary. And to say that it is never too late to start.
The key to activity is to find something fun. Take a walk, a hike. Pack a healthy picnic and go explore some park. Have a bike? Ride it!! Running some errands on your bike might take a bit longer but isn’t your health worth it? I make time every morning to do body-weight exercises. Those are push-ups, crunches, leg lifts, squats, planks, lunges and more. For some ideas, try checking out this article at LiveStrong.com. And don’t let the, “I can’t do that” statement stop you. If some of these body weight exercises are beyond your abilities now, practice the “get up out of the chair, then sit down in the chair, get up, sit down” exercise. Repeat as you can and watch your abilities grow instead of become less.
If the weather isn’t pleasant, take a walk in the art museum or even the mall. I have a cool mini-tramp that I bounce on. Start small by parking further from the store and walk a few extra steps each day. Even pick up a shopping cart and push it, if you need something to steady you. Good job!!
The key is… even if you don’t want to… JUST DO IT! Find a way to change yourself for the better and start moving more. Your body, your mind, your emotions will all benefit.
A few more ideas
I get inspired daily by Dr Michael Taylor, DC who posts excellent encouragement on Instagram. That’s his meme at the beginning of this blog. Check him out at https://www.instagram.com/michaelt_dc/
Make friends with people who get out and move or decide to talk to your friends about ideas for getting more exercise. Instead of stopping for drinks after work, once in awhile you all might decide to take a hike together instead.
Have you explored yoga? You might think it’s only for the young and bendy but you would be wrong. Yoga is wonderful and classes adapt to any age, size or level of movability. Yoga is wonderful for range of motion, balance and calming your busy head. Check it out!
Think about activities that you enjoyed as a kid. I loved to swim but had gotten away from it. It’s a great activity for any age and even if you don’t swim, the local Y’s have exercise classes you can do in the water that are very healing to the body, whatever shape its in.
Get outside!!! The Japanese have a term which translates as Forest Therapy. Taking a walk in nature is not only exercise but healing to body, mind and spirit. The sounds, the colors, the fresh breeze, sun rays and the energy of nature can do things that sitting on the sofa never will. More info on that is here. http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/shinrin-yoku.html
If a video appeals more…. Here’s a TEDed talk on why sitting is bad for you.
TEDed talk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUEl8KrMz14\
Physical Activity Then vs Now
August 31, 2017 by Normand Richard, Certified Exercise Physiologist
Healthy Families BC https://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/home/blog/physical-activity-then-vs-now
HealthSpan Fitness- Health Risks of a Sedentary Lifestyle
April 13, 2013
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 60 to 85% of the population worldwide does not engage in enough activity. Making physical inactivity the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity
Body weight exercises from LiveStrong