We've been beginning to hear so much of it lately: Sitting and obesity is going to be more fatal and cost more taxpayer dollars on healthcare than the tobacco industry ever did.
With my baccalaureate in clinical dental hygiene, this is wild to me. I spent hours of every week working with my patients, coaching and encouraging them to reduce their tobacco use because the 5 year mortality rate on most oral cancers is around 50%. Scary stuff!
Scarier still, I was the one sitting for a majority of 8 hours a day in my chair educating my patients, plus my drive home, sitting during meals and then watching a show or two with my husband every evening after walking our dog. Yes, I did get up frequently to take x-rays, clean the room, get instruments out of the sterilizer, flag the dentist for exams, but that was only 10-15 minutes per hour at most that I was up and around.
My husband, most of my friends and family, and a significant number of my Rolfing clients work at jobs in front of computers, usually at seated desks. For some of them productivity is the base of their performance and pay at their jobs, so breaks literally cost them money. Many of them are told not to get up to walk around and talk to coworkers, but rather text or instant message them or call them on the phone. Bathroom breaks are limited by management for several of the people in my head right now. Yep, like elementary school kids who can't use the potty until they're done with their macaroni art for Mother's Day.
Would we be better off to get up and go outside for a smoke break every hour? EEEEKKK!!!! WHAT TO DO???
I'm kidding, I would never advocate smoking as a means to well-being. I'm just trying to illustrate a ridiculous point.
For many of my clients or family I've suggested that they seek a standing/seated convertible desk that they can move around throughout the day. You might need a note from a doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor stating the issues you're having are related to the hazardous nature of your job.
If you're like me, you have the same couch since you were in college. It's broken down and uncomfortable and it makes me miserable to be on it for more than the length of a single movie. I can't sit on it, it makes me crazy, so if I'm watching TV, often I prefer to sit on the floor or in a modified yoga pose. Heck, as I'm typing this very post I can hardly sit still. I've gotten up at least 4 times.
Whatever you do, don't fall into the trap of thinking that a mere 30 minute walk each day is all the exercise you're going to need. Don't do it for any weight loss or food-guilt reasons (yes, I am also aware that it's Girl Scout Cookie season), but rather do it for the fact that it feels good to move your body. I'm not a fan of fad diets, or calorie counting or categorizing foods as good and bad. We can't demonize everything in the world around us. Just try to eat the best you can and MOVE for 5-10 minutes every hour you're awake every day.
Begin to heighten your awareness of what type of movement suits your body type best. Taking the stairs? Parking at the very last spot in the parking lot and walking? Yoga? Cartwheels in the park? Dancing to your favorite songs a few times throughout the day? Stretching like a cat in the afternoon sun? Gardening?
How does your breathing change? Blood flow to your legs? Notice a wider peripheral vision? Less tension in your chest and shoulders? Feel less sleepy?
A common mechanism to motivate smokers to quit to getting them to realize their financial gains if they can cut back and eventually quit. They can save thousands of dollars per year by not smoking. What will our sedentary culture end up costing us? I'm curious to see what studies and numbers will emerge in coming decades.
Just as so many have broken the habit of lighting up and taking a few puffs, we have to break the cycle of not getting up and off our duffs.