This Friday, April 24, sees an event called ‘On Your Feet Britain”, a campaign partnership between Get Britain Standing and the British Heart Foundation. The campaign is aimed at highlighting the potential detrimental effects prolonged periods of sitting or inactivity can have on your body and your health.
According to it, the average member of the British population sits for almost 9 hours a day. Recent research indicates that sitting for more than 4 hours each day can lead to, amongst other things, a reduction in one’s metabolic rate (i.e.: reduced burning of calories), increased blood pressure and increased insulin levels.
The worrying aspect of this is that, irrespective of your level of physical activity, the result of sitting for more than 4 hours a day can lead to increased risks of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, depression, dementia, postural issues, osteoporosis and muscle degeneration.
Even that bottle of water you have at your office desk, the one you finish each and every day to keep you hydrated, may not be having all the health benefits you think it has. For whilst your body is made up of approximately 60% water, if you’re consuming water without moving then your body won’t use all this water. You become nothing more than a highly evolved, biological drainpipe for the water your body thinks you don’t need. Why does it think this? Because, as you’re not moving, your body isn’t feeling the need to “feed” this hydration throughout your system. Hydrate and move though, that’s a different story. Your body will act as a sponge and feed this water to where it’s needed. Then motion truly is lotion.
It’s one of the reasons I’m such a strong advocate of TRX suspension training. One of TRX’s philosophies is the concept of “Stand Up To Train”, which requires a greater use of your body’s entire musculature to perform movements.
For the office-bound there are some practical solutions to keep you moving throughout the day. Take the stairs, print to a printer other than the one closest to your desk, take regular short breaks, have stand-up meetings. Perhaps a workstation where you have the option to sit or stand is possible, the use of a stability ball (I’m sat on one as I type) rather than a chair. And for any of you early-adopter technology types you might want to check out Fluidstance’s The Level, a hybrid of a surfboard, skateboard and BOSU ball. Work would never be the same and your health would be improving compared to being sat down.
Also, the good news from the German Sports University in Cologne – who conduct research work in partnership with Milon – is that minimal exercise can begin to ward off the dangers of inactivity.
So on Friday (and in fact everyday) I encourage you to push back the chair, take a break, go for a walk, mix up your day and be active. Strike a balance and avoid prolonged periods of inactivity. Don’t get sick from sitting. And encourage and inspire your friends, colleagues and co-workers to do the same.