With the advent of the industrial revolution, only 2% of jobs required manual labor where prior 90% did. Today, the way we live, commute, utilize technology, communicate, travel, and consume food we’ve become a nation of sitters.
From 1950 to 2000, the percentage of sedentary occupation in the US has risen from 23 to 41%.
For the vast majority of evolutionary history, humans exerted themselves to survive. They spent time outdoors in the sun, hunting, and gathering. There was no working out – it was just life and survival.
Whether watching TV, working on computers, communicating, or commuting the typical US adult in now sedentary for approximately 60% of waking hours. This means activities which do not increase energy expenditure substantially above the resting level. These activities include sitting, lying down, watching TV, and other screen-based entertainment or work.
American children aged 6-11 spend six hours daily in these behaviors. Adolescents (ages 16-19) and older adults (ages 60-85) spend almost eight hours per day sedentary.
We’re genetically designed to be physically active and not sit all day. Increased sitting and inactivity has profound negative affects on every aspect of human health.
Prolonged sitting wrecks our metabolic function leading to obesity, reduces the body’s response to insulin, weakens bones, and increases risk or cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Sedentary life styles account for about 23% of all deaths due to these chronic diseases.
Current research demonstrates that exercise can change the structure of your brain by increasing the size of your hippocampus. This is important for managing stress, learning, memory, and mood. Exercise helps lower fasting insulin levels and blood sugar, weight loss promotion, decrease blood pressure, boost your immune system, increase beneficial HDL cholesterol, improve sleep, strengthen bones, and increase energy levels.
Being physically active prevents inflammation and oxidative stress which are primary mechanisms of many chronic disease such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
What’s the solution? Simple: Get up and move and sit less. Working out isn’t the answer. What? Yes, it’s a shocker isn’t it. A study of US adults concluded that sitting for more than 6 hours day had a 40% increase risk of death over the next 15 years than those who act less than 3 hours daily. This was regardless whether the the participants exercised or not. Walking is the most fundamental form of aerobic activity. It’s low-impact and requires no special equipment and can be done anytime.
Incorporate standing and more frequent breaks and regular light activity through your work day. Research shows that doing this decreases your waist size, body mass index, lowers
triglycerides, and helps stabilize your blood sugars. This is more effective than short periods of vigorous exercise in reversing harmful health problems generated by excessive sitting.
Consider a diverse exercise program of moderate activity that also involves resistance training, cardiovascular activity, intensity, stretching, and massage. Moderate activity is indexed to the equivalent of 30 minutes of walking (two miles at 15 minute/mile), repeated five times per week. A form of exercise that has demonstrated health benefits is High-intensity interval training (HIIT). This approach to exercise and movement mimics the physical activity of hunter-gatherers.
HIIT involves performing movements at high intensity for short time intervals. Usually thirty seconds to two minutes. HIIT burns calories unto 48 hours after you workout and produces a greater response than traditional cardio.