We do it every day, hours in a row. We get up and sit at the breakfast table, afterwards move to our car, so we can spend 8h sitting at our desk at work. After work we get back into our car to drive home and sit in front of the television. So what’s new? Sitting for long periods is dreadfully unhealthy! Every year about 5.3 million people die as a result of hour sedentary lifestyles. What’s so bad about sitting that it has such a big influence on our health? Mankind was made to move! Think of our ancestors: at first all humans were hunter-gatherers, constantly in motion. Afterwards we evolved to farmers who spent their days working in the field from dawn till dusk!
When we sit, we use a lot less muscles than when we stand or move around. When we sit, our larger skeletal muscles (legs, back, behind) shut down, which has several negative influences on cellular processes in our muscles and tissues. It lowers LPL/HDL levels in our blood (cholesterol, responsible for transporting fats) and the decomposition of plasma triglycerides (fat) drops. The amount of fat burning enzymes in your blood can drop with up to 90% in 1 hour. This increases the risk of obesity and several cardio vascular diseases.
And that’s just the beginning! Research has shown that sitting for long periods of time increases the risk of heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, cancer, stroke, thrombosis, back complaints, obesity, metabolism-distortions, osteoporosis, depression, dementia,… So are we all a lost cause due to our sedentary lifestyle and far going automation? Luckily, no! There are numerous ways to break through our sedentary habits and to implement more movement into our lifestyles.
Every movement helps, getting up for a moment, stretching, walking around, anything! Ideally you should get up to move around every 20 minutes.
One of the healthiest solutions is a walkdesk. This is a standing desk, mounted over a treadmill. The idea is to walk a few hours every day at low speeds (0.5-1.5 mph), while performing your tasks at work. Walking is a natural movement that doesn’t require any thinking and has very healthy effects on your body. It ensures a strong and healthy blood circulation, strengthens your bones and immune system, improves brain functions and improves your concentration (and thus increases productivity).
An extra plus, is that you burn a lot more calories while walking, so you can lose weight while working. It’s also relaxing, improves posture and makes you sound a lot more lovely. Half an hour of (medium-)intense exercise can’t compensate the negative effects of sitting all day, but moving around more during the day isn’t a replacement for exercise either. It’s merely an addition to counter the negative effects of sitting for too long.