Reflection: Comedienne, Phyllis Diller, once remarked, “My idea of exercise is a good brisk sit.” Funny as she was, Phyllis had it wrong. Sitting is not necessarily better for your health. Sure, if you’re on your feet a lot during the day, taking a load off serves to…well, take a load off. It brings a welcome relief to weary feet, knees and back.
But a whole lot of us are not standing. We’re sitting, sitting, sitting. At the computer, behind the wheel, in front of the TV, on bleachers watching others play sports, and around the table at community meetings.
According to recent research cited by the Mayo Clinic, sitting for long periods of time is directly associated with obesity and a set of conditions known as metabolic syndrome – something that leads to higher blood pressure, skewed blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol levels.
Too much sitting is also associated with upper back and neck pain, and a higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Don’t like the sounds of that? Neither do I!
Why does getting a move on matter so much? Apparently the muscle activity used in standing and other kinds of movement helps trigger the breakdown of fats and sugars in the body. Every time you stand or move, you set those processes in motion; and those processes help keep you healthy.
Action: What’s better than sitting? Sitter-itus Interruptus! It looks like this.
- If two or three of you gather for a chat, and paper isn’t required, hold a walking/talking meeting.
- If you do need to record your thinking, instead of taking notes sitting down, stand around a white board or flip chart to share ideas.
- Adopt a new meeting protocol that sees a change of topic or new agenda item accompanied by a brief stand and stretch punctuation mark.
- Rig up a shared work station that lets you and others take turns standing at a high table or counter for part of the day.
- Stand up when you take a phone call at work. Walk around the house with the portable phone while taking calls at home.
- Make more frequent stop and stretch breaks when you are on the road.
- Pace or stroll the airport waiting area instead of lounging in one seat while waiting to buckle yourself into another.
- Park your vehicle further from your destination, forego the escalator, and embrace the stairs.
- Get a move on when you’re socializing. Invite a friend for a walk and talk, instead of a sit and sip.
The next time you take five (whether it’s five minutes or five seconds), make it pay. Make and take every possible opportunity to get off your butt and on your feet.
Quote Of The Week: Stretching oneself too thin is the disease of modern life; letting oneself get too thick, the other. – Terri Guillemets
You are as important to your health as it is to you. – Terri Guillemets
Resources Of The Week: For a cool info-graphic on this topic, see Sitting Is Killing You – The Truth About Sitting Down.
For a few movement ideas, see 29 Exercises You Can Do At (Or Near) Your Desk.
Readers Write: In response to last week’s message, Where Might Imperfect Be More Than Enough, Pause reader HP writes: When reading your article about perfectionism, a saying came back to my mind. After my husband suffered a devastating stroke, a therapist told me this line that still sticks with me after all these years. “One of the secrets of happiness is to learn to live with what is left.”