Coined by the scientific community, the term ‘sitting disease’ refers to the ill-effects and metabolic syndrome of an overly sedentary lifestyle. Although the medical community still doesn’t recognize this as a diagnosable disease at the moment, researchers point out that there are numerous health risks that come along with an overly sedentary lifestyle.
A study conducted by the Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee found that the average American spends 55% of waking time in sedentary behaviors:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18303006.
This equals to about 7.7 hours of sitting per day.
When a person is spending this much time sitting, they increase their chances of suffering from a large number of diseases. Some of the problems that are caused by too much sitting include slow blood circulation, lower back pain, high cholesterol, and colon cancer.
A study published in the American Diabetes Association Journal notes that an overly sedentary lifestyle also increases the risks of type 2 diabetes (by as much as 14 percent), obesity, and cardiovascular disease (American Diabetes Association.
Despite what you may have thought, exercising won’t actually counteract the health risks that come from sitting too much. Even if you go to the gym five times a week and even go for a jog in the park daily, you can still experience the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
Think of it this way, if you exercise one hour a day, but spend the remaining 23 hours doing nothing, you will be in a much worse condition than a person who spends only 3-4 hours a day sitting.
Sedentary behavior is often described as any type of prolonged activity that requires little energy. In order to determine which activity is considered sedentary, physiologists use a number known as MET (Metabolic Equivalent of Task).
To put things in perspective, sedentary behaviors expend up to 1.5 METs, while moderate walking equals to about 3 to 4 METs. Running equals to around 8 METs.
The American Heart Association currently notes that in order for an individual to be healthy, one needs to spend 150 minutes exercising every week.
However, if you assume that a person spends 16 hours a day awake, 150 minutes of exercise equals to only 2.23% of one’s active time. So, if an individual spends the remaining 97.77% of their active time in a low-activity state, they will surely put their health in danger.
So, in order to avoid any of the health risks that come along with sitting disease, it’s best for you to find new ways to infuse more activity daily. Some of the best ways to do just that include:
Monitoring how many steps you take daily. This can serve as a great motivator, as it will make you push towards a goal that you have already set. Note that you should take at least 5,000 steps every day, but 10,000 (or more) are what you should really aim at.
Following the 20-8-2 rule. This popular rule was thought of by health experts who say that for every 20 minutes you spend sitting, you should take 8 minutes to stand, an additional two to move.
Continuing with your workout routine. You should still continue doing at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercising five times a week.
Finding a distraction. The best way to reduce the amount of time you use up sitting is to find a distraction. This can be a simple stroll at the park, housework, or even gardening. Do something that you will enjoy, so that it doesn’t seem like a chore.
Finding excuses for moving more. The next time you head down to work, make sure you park your car further away from your workplace in order to move more. Urge your loved ones to engage in more walks around your neighborhood with you (remember that they need to move as well).