How sitting less could save your life
Scientists are telling us that sitting down all day is bad for us. Bad for us as in, it could kill us. TheSite.org finds out how worried you should be, and what you can do about it.
Death. Arrgggghhhh, right? Scary stuff, dying. So what if we told you that just the simple act of sitting down a lot could kill you dead? That's really scary right?
Welcome to the modern world, where your lifestyle is perfectly designed to make you a slobby couch potato But, as a result, many of us will die younger and develop diseases like heart disease and diabetes. In fact, by 2050, it's predicted that 60% of the UK population will be obese and 25% diabetic
OK OK OK. We know. You're bored stupid of hearing all these scare-stories about your health. But we're not here to wind you up, rather to tell you that it's really really easy to stop this happening to you. In fact, you'll barely even notice the changes you need to make. And the best news is you could get other benefits at the same time, like feeling less stressed and anxious.
So what's the best way to avoid all these nasty diseases?
The simple answer is to move a little bit more each day and sit less... WE TOLD YOU IT WAS EASY.
Have you ever thought about how much time you spend a day sitting on your arse? Unless you work in a manual job, guaranteed it's a lot. The average Brit spends at least four hours a day ogling TVs, computers, laptops, and mobiles. And, let's admit it, we all probably spend waaay longer than that - especially when rainy days and DVD box sets are involved.
So why is sitting down so dreadful then?
Even if you're a super-fit, you probably still need to move around more when you're not doing your cardio sessions.
"Physical inactivity makes it harder for your body to break down sugars and fats and with time"
This is because the amount of time we spend sitting comes with its own separate set of problems. We're not suggesting you stop exercising; we're saying you need to try and stop sitting still for long periods of time.
The problem with sitting all day, says Dr Wilby Williamson, is that it slows down your metabolism. "Physical inactivity makes it harder for your body to break down sugars and fats and with time this can lead to increased fat deposits around your internal organs," he explains. "If this goes on for a long time it becomes a risk factor for things going wrong with your body - heart disease and diabetes being just two examples of problems which are directly related to physical inactivity."
Dr Mike Evans, whose video about the problem has more than 2.5m views, analysed different studies and found that low cardiac fitness is the 'strongest predictor of death'. According to the World Health Organisation, sitting too much is right up there with the other big killers in the western world: high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes.
OK. Sit less. Got it. So what do I need to do?
Get up, right now. Get up from your desk and walk to the printer. Get off the bus early and walk a few stops. Deliberately oversleep and then power-walk to college. Play the Wii really enthusiastically. Stroll to the photocopier. Pop round to a mate's house, instead of texting or emailing them. Take the stairs, not the lift. Dance while you're waiting for the kettle to boil. Wiggle your feet at your desk. Whatever it takes, just MOVE.
How can I tell if I'm doing this moving thing right?
You need to be a little bit out of breath - preferably for 22 minutes a day. You should be able to still talk; it doesn't have to involve becoming a sweaty red mess. Trust us: If you're able to get those 22 minutes, you're on the road to avoiding loads of heart drugs in 40 years' time.
But the health problems are years away for me - who cares?
So you can't imagine being 50 and therefore don't really care. Fair enough. On the other hand, the life you're leading right now could also be vastly improved by moving more. Studies say moving around can enhance and improve your mood and help you deal with things like stress. That endorphin hit fitness freaks go on about? It could be yours and you don't even need to go down the gym. You just need to walk around more during the day.
By Holly Thompson
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