Newsletter

Why Even Exercise Might Not Keep You Safe From This Dangerous Daily Activity

Man with sore back

Part of the problem with mainstream medicine is the inability to look at medicine in a holistic sense.

Before I go too far, I don’t want to attach myself to the “holistic” label.

That isn’t to say that I don’t believe in holistic medicine, but I also believe that conventional medicine has really helped us gain a wonderful sense of what both harms and helps the body.

However, I feel too many times medicine focuses on one aspect of health without taking a look at the whole picture for total health.

If all doctors would take a step back and look at total health, I’m sure we’d see a surplus of medical breakthroughs!

Allow me to explain.

The Untold Dangers of Sitting Down

One of the things that might come as a surprise to many of you are the many dangers associated with sitting for extended periods of time.

It’s something that nearly all of us find ourselves doing at some point in the day.

And, for many of my patients, it’s an activity they participate in for at least 8 hours a day.

What’s been discovered is that adults who sit for 6 hours a day or more will actually see a reduction in their life of over 5 years.

And, that includes people who exercise regularly.

As Thomas Yates, MD says:

Even for people who are otherwise active, sitting for long stretches seems to be an independent risk factor for conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease.

So why is this the case, you might be asking?

Most likely the reason that sitting hurts your health is because your body was never intended to be out of motion for that long.

Look at yourself in the mirror. What you’ll see are legs that were meant to run (or walk). You’ll notice your arms were designed to reach and lift.

You’ll also notice your spine is curved and  meant to accommodate the load of your body’s weight as you move from here to there. Honestly, it was never meant to be bent over at a desk while an uncomfortable chair holds you up.

And that’s what scientists looking at health in a “holistic” sense have been able to uncover.

The Swedish were some of the first brilliant scientists who discovered this connection.

I’m not sure why they were doing the research. Maybe it was their study to support the idea that assembling IKEA furniture was beneficial to health that led to them to look at this aspect of health.

What they were able to show is people who were sedentary most of the day (sat for more than 6 hours) had a higher incidence of early death. Even if they did workout for 30 minutes a day.

As they concluded:

Based on nearly 3,900 men and women over age 60 in Stockholm, the study adds to evidence suggesting that just sitting around may be actively harmful, researchers say.

'We have known for 60 years that physical activity is important for the heart,’ said lead author Elin Ekblom-Bak… But, until recently, the research has mainly focused on exercise and has “forgotten” about the background activity that we do during daily life…

Whether someone exercises vigorously or not, it still usually only takes up a small fraction of the day. That leaves the rest of the time for either sitting still or engaging in non-exercise activities, like home-repairs, lawncare and gardening, car-maintenance, hunting or fishing.

The truth is, movement is essential to health.

And the older you get, the more this is true.

Children are always active.

Their daily activities drive them to go all over the place without abandon.

As we age, we slow down, but it doesn’t mean we should stop moving

Any Idea What Makes Sitting so Harmful?

The belief is that when your body remains still for an extended period of time, the lack of muscle-use (or specifically, the lack of muscular contractions) means blood doesn’t move around your body in the manner necessary for full health.

So, it’s not that being still is a problem.

It’s more to do with the fact that sitting doesn’t engage your muscular or skeletal system.

When you sit, you change how gravity pulls on your body.  That alone is one of the biggest reasons that not even physical exercise can reverse the harmful affects that sitting can produce. Your body almost succumbs to a sitting-deficit of sorts

The proof is in the pudding. One study decided to see the affects sitting had on the elderly. Following a group of people all over the age of 60 for 12 years, they found these telltale signs sitting has detrimental effects.

The report found:

Those who reported a substantial amount of movement during the 12 years had the lowest incidences of heart-related issues.

For every 100 of those who were inactive (sat) and experienced a heart attack or stroke, only 73 from the higher activity group had similar problems.

For every 100 who died during the study, only 70 of the most active died.

And the active group had the lowest potential health risk profile compared to the other.

The conclusion is apparent

Sitting can have negative affects on your health, ultimately leading to untimely death.

The good news is even if your job requires you to sit, there’s plenty you can do to fight the harmful effects all throughout the day.

Here’s a list of things you can do to boost your chances of living longer and healthier.

Movements to Combat the Dangers of Sitting

While you might not be able to get away for sitting entirely, you can take control of your life and try and reverse your sitting-deficit with very little work.

All you have to do is move. That’s really all there is to it.

Dr Vernikos, formerly of Nasa’s Life Science Divisions says, “that simply standing up and sitting back down may be enough to do the trick, provided it’s done frequently enough."

You can also:

  • Walk for 5 minutes on the hour
  • Swing your legs front to back and side to side to move blood through the body.
  • Do a deep squat. Simply sit in the “catcher’s position” to promote increased blood flow.
  • Take a few minutes to focus on posture. Link to practice better posture here.
  • Stand up and bend over and touch your toes every 15 minutes.
  • Get a stand-up desk if you work in an office.

The biggest takeaway is you shouldn’t remain seated for extended periods of time.

Do your absolute best to move every 15 minutes and you’ll be in far better shape than you would be if you cruised through the day without moving.

As an added bonus, you will feel far less fatigued during the day.

You  also will likely fight off (or reverse) muscle pain associated with being in one position for too long.

I understand that when you read my emails you’re probably disturbed by how many of your daily activities are unhealthy.

I get it. It’s not convenient to keep finding this stuff out.

But, believe me, my objective is to always give you information that will help you experience total health.

What I’ll be talking about in next week’s email is so shocking that I’m not even sure I should send it to you.

You’ll have to wait till the weekend to find out what I’m talking about.

In the mean time.

Be well,
Dr. Wiggy