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Modern-Day Desk Sentence

/ Wednesday, 09 January 2013 / Published in Articles

The moment we sit down, our bodies go into complete shut-down. Thanks to modern technology, mechanization, and automation, the majority of us spend the majority of our lives sitting, and our sedentary lifestyles are killing us. It’s time we took a stand. So, yes, push back your chair and stand up.

The Institute for Medicine and Public Health has found that we spend about 56 hours a week rooted on our butts. Between work hours at a desk, commute time to and from work, driving time to go anywhere else we need to go, time slumped in front of computers at home, sitting down to eat, hours couched in front of the television or curled up reading or looking at magazines or talking on the phone or whatever we do – we are sitting for most of our lives.

Women tend to be even more sedentary than men, holding jobs that require more sitting and being less involved in sports, so unless you want to either remain a pear or turn into one, then get off your butt and incorporate movement into your day.

Did you know that there is even a whole new area of medical study devoted to our unhealthy lifestyles? They call it Inactivity Physiology. Inactivity Physiology is the study of the negative effects of our sedentary lives, as well as a deadly new epidemic called “sitting disease.”

We may have modern technology, but our bodies still have the needs of cavemen and are designed to hunt and gather food, not sit at computer desks. James Levine, M.D., Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and author of “Move a Little, Lose a Lot,” says that “Our bodies have evolved over millions of years to do one thing: move.” Human beings have evolved to stand upright, not to sit.

It was not so long ago that our environments required nearly constant movement. But now we are advanced. We have the internet and other technology that we hardly dreamed possible even fifty years ago. And, of course, we have that great Puritan work ethic a manifest destiny mentality that drives us to constantly want more and do more and thus – work more, consequently spending longer hours sitting at desks and more time driving longer distances to get to our jobs. The little we have left, we are plugged in. Aren’t we supposed to be up to date with the social networks? What if we miss a post on Facebook? The result is less time – not just for exercise – but for movement in general. Our electronic living is robbing us of energy and life.

What exactly does all this sitting do to our bodies?

1). Metabolic rate slows/Obesity increases

Marc Hamilton, Ph.D, associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri, explains that the body shuts down at the metabolic level. When large muscles, such as those in our legs, become immobile, our circulation slows and we consequently burn fewer calories. But it is worse than a matter of a few calories. There are flab-burning enzymes that start to switch off, and after a day of sitting, they are depleted by 50%. The fat keeps swimming in our blood stream until it finally gets stored as fat or is forced to clog arteries. It is so harmful that doctors have equated sitting to be as detrimental to our health as smoking.

Obesity has become a world-wide epidemic, with an estimated 2.3 billion overweight people by 2015, according to the World Health Organization.

2). Diabetes chances go up.

With just 2 hours spent sitting each day, our chances of getting diabetes increase by a whopping 7%. Quite simply, the less we move, the less blood sugar our bodies use.

3). Heart disease risk goes up.

When we are inactive, so are enzymes that keep blood fates in check, driving up our chances for heart disease.

4). Cholesterol rises.

Sitting causes enzyme activity to drop by up to 90%. With inactive enzymes not capable of using fat for energy, harmful cholesterol rises and healthy cholesterol drops by 20%.

5). Depression increases.

If you are not depressed by sheer boredom of a job that makes you sit at a desk all day, the physical side effects of sitting will do it. When we sit, there is less blood flow in the body, and with less blood flowing, there are also fewer hormones circulating to the brain that we need to feel good, causing us to be more prone to depression.

6). Back and neck pain increase/Posture and spinal health decline. Chronic lower-back pain in women has increased times three since the nineties. As our hip flexors and hamstrings shorten and tighten from sitting, the muscles that support our spines become weak and stiff, resulting in poor posture, back pain, neck pain, and a general decline in spinal health.

7). Herniated disk risk increases.

With pressure from sitting on hips and spine, we are at risk for herniated disks. When spinal pressure causes a disk to come out of place, it creates a condition so painful that medication, and even surgery can be required, not to mention physical therapy.

8). Knee pain risk increases.

While back pain is often associated with sitting, we do not always think of knee pain being associated, but ninety degrees at the knees all day wreaks havoc too. It puts too much pressure on the knee caps that can cause swelling and force people to wear knee braces – just to sit at their desks all day.

9). Muscle mass decreases/muscle weakness increases.

Loss of major muscle mass is dangerous for our health. We need our muscles to retain proper body function and movement, and our muscles must stay strong for everything else to work. The gluteus maximums are named just that because they are some of the biggest muscles in the body and important to our well-being. The weakening of these muscles contributes to lower back pain and hip bursitis, among other problems.

10). Arthritis risk increases/worsens.

A lack of movement contributes to a higher C-reactive protein. This triggers inflammatory disease, including rheumatoid arthritis. And for those who already have arthritis, lack of movement of the muscles and flexibility of the joints increases pain and further decreases flexibility.

11). Deep vein thrombosis risk increases.

Sitting for hours without moving puts us at risk of potentially deadly blood clots in our legs. This is why people are warned to not sit without getting up on long airplane flights, but you don’t have to be on a plane to suffer deep vein thrombosis and keel over dead, just sitting at your desk can do it.

12). Fatigue increases/vitality decreases. You may think that if you are not doing anything but sitting all day that you shouldn’t get tired, but fatigue is actually increased by inactivity. Our muscles are forced to hold our buttocks, necks, and shoulders in a fixed position that squeezes blood vessels in the muscles, thereby reducing the blood supply to those muscles, accelerating fatigue and making muscles prone to injury. So at the end of the workday at your desk – you are tired. You drive home (while sitting on your butt), you sit down for dinner, you sit on the couch to watch TV, you sleep, and you do it all over again, with no vitality to do anything else. Don’t let this be you.

13). Death rate increases/life span decreases. Sitting for more than 6 hours a day will kill you faster, on average, by 35% for women and 18% for men than compared to those who exercise and do not have sedentary jobs. Sitting all day and not exercising puts women at a 94% higher risk for premature death, and men at a 48% higher risk. Serious statistics for a serious problem. Get up off your butt, get exercising, and change up our sedentary lifestyle before you become part of that statistic.

Don’t let the modern-day desk sentence kill you. Take a stand.

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