Godfather of Soul James Brown once famously advised “Get up! Get on up!!” James Brown was a wise man. According to a new study led by Cornell nutritional scientist Rebecca Seguin, the less you sit, the longer you live. For aging women especially, the study reveals, a sedentary lifestyle leads to enhanced risks of chronic disease, limited mobility and diminished functionality.
Ultimately, in a study of 93,000 post-menopausal women, researchers determined that those who spent the most time sitting and resting were likely to be outlived by their more active peers.
Sit Up and Listen!
We’re sorry to raise our voice but we wanted to get your attention. New evidence suggests that a lifetime of sitting can be quite hazardous to your health. An article in the Washington Post says that sitting in excess of 8 hours a day can lead to heart disease, a higher risk of diabetes, a higher risk of colon cancer, reduced hip flexibility, neck and back strain, spinal compression and even a slowing of fresh blood and oxygen to the brain. In short, the position that most of us endure day-in, day-out while working is, to put it lightly, not great for productivity.
Of course, you have to sit at least some of the time. The Washington Post advises that if you must do so, good posture is essential. Reduce the risk of neck and back injury or spinal compression by keeping your neck straight and back un-hunched. Relax your shoulders, ensure that you have lower back support and keep your feet flat on the floor.
Take a Stand
Naturally, some of the time that you spend sitting is for leisure and you deserve it. But don’t overdo it. The Mayo Clinic reports on a recent study that compared the health outcomes of adults who spent less than 2 hours a day sitting in front of a television with those of adults who spent more than four hours a day doing the same. Those in the latter category had a nearly 50% higher risk of death from any cause and a 125% higher risk of heart disease or heart attack.
So what’s the bottom line? You have to find reasons to get out of your chair as often as you can. If you’re at work, this might mean standing up and walking to speak with colleagues rather than dashing out emails without moving a muscle. You might also consider alternating between your desk and a standing platform. Because of recent findings about the hazards of excessive sitting, the standing-desk is becoming a more common sight in the workplace.
In general, whether you’re at work or at home, you should consider developing a healthy, low-impact stretching routine. It’s a good idea to stand up at least once during every hour to decompress your spine, stretch your joints and get the blood and oxygen flowing to all parts of your body.
Use It Or Lose It
So say researchers at Cornell. When it comes to physical ability, remaining active and mobile throughout the day is important. The less you do this, the harder it becomes to recover functionality or recuperate from injury with age. Excessive sitting is not just a hazard of work-life but a symptom of a sedentary lifestyle.
It’s absolutely critical, especially as we get older, that we find the exercise routine that works best for each of us. Consult your physician or a personal trainer to develop a workout regimen that makes sense for you. But be wary. Researchers at Cornell report that an active and healthy lifestyle is critical but, in this case, is not enough on its own. No matter how you stack it, too much sitting is bad for you. So whatever it is you decide to do, make sure to get up and do it as often as possible!