My friend’s grandmother, born in a small town in Italy, grew up in a family that could not even afford a horse and buggy. She walked to school, church, the library etc. Walking was a way of life. Due to the time involved in walking from place to place and because there were always chores to do around the house, there was very little time for sitting down. If she were alive today she would most definitely wonder why people spend so much time sitting during the day!
According to research from the Cancer Research Center at University of Queensland, prolonged sitting is very bad for our health. Absence of whole body movement is associated with obesity, abnormal glucose metabolism and the metabolic syndrome, researchers looked at breaks in sitting time and how this corresponded with biological markers of metabolic risk such as weight, height, HDL cholesterol, waist circumference and resting blood pressure. This study provides evidence of the importance of avoiding prolonged uninterrupted periods of sedentary or primarily sitting time. They explained that when the large muscles in the legs and buttocks, which are designed to be standing and maintaining posture, are immobilized for long periods of time, there is a failure to activate an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase, which is responsible for reducing the above mentioned risks.
A follow up study by the same researchers found that television viewing time was associated with increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. “In addition to the promotion of exercise, chronic disease prevention strategies could focus on reducing sitting time, particularly prolonged television viewing” says Dr. Hunter Yost, M.D. The most serious and well known complication of prolonged sitting is venous thrombo-embolism (VTE), a condition in which blood clots occur and travel through the veins. When a blood clog forms in the deep veins of the legs, thighs or pelvis, it is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). When this blood clot breaks off from its original location and travels through the venous system, it can become lodged in the arteries leading from the heart to the lungs: a very serious condition.
For the majority of people who don’t want to engage in “formal exercise,” follow my grandmother’s advice who would come to us kids sitting around and after looking right in our eyes…we knew, we better get up and do something. She would send us across the farm to pick up a tomato for her when she had hundreds of them in the next room! Today I fully understand what she was doing and why. As we go through our day to day activities let’s make it a point to get up and walk at least every hour.
Maybe when at our desk and need a form we’ll get up and get it instead of calling staff to email it to us or looking for a quick answer by just calling out to someone across the office. We forget that the body we currently are in is the only one we have: no returns or exchanges; let’s do our part to protect and preserve it any way we can.