Most of us do this every day. It ages us. It slows us down. Not even regular exercise counteracts its effect.
Yup, plain old sitting. Sitting in front of a computer at work all day long. Sitting in front of the TV.
As a society we sit more than ever before.
In her book, Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, Dr. Joan Vernikos, former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division, talks about the damage sitting inflicts on our bodies and how easy it is to counteract its effects.
Dr. Vernikos worked with astronauts at NASA and became fascinated with the effects of space and zero-gravity on the human body. It is common knowledge that extended stays in space wreaks havoc on the musculature and skeletons of astronauts. Spending months in Skylab messes with your health.
“What became abundantly clear to me very quickly was that gravity plays a big role in our physiological function and in the aging process,” Dr. Vernikos says.
Sitting in an office chair in front of a compute for hours at a time day after day has a similar effect on your body to that of zero-gravity. The human body was not made to be that under-utilised… it needs to move.
Combatting the Sitting Epidemic
A static body will quickly become a sick body. Sitting for long periods of time isn’t the problem… it’s sitting for long periods of time without changing position or posture.
You want to change your body position. You want to interrupt your sitting. Stand up, but do it 35 times a day. If you are talking on the phone, get out of your chair and stand up. The act of squatting and standing… using your thigh muscles, is key. Getting out of your chair every 10 or 15 minutes is much more effective than doing 35 squats or knee bends all at once.
The key is to change your posture, interrupt your sitting several times an hour.
Even better, stand up and do a few jumping jacks. Or some jump squats. You only need to do 5 or 6. And do it often.
The benefits to your body long term from incorporating this habit will pay huge dividends to your long-term mobility.