How many hours a day do you sit? Research shows that people who stand and move more throughout the day have a reduced risk of premature aging. Standing and moving as opposed to sitting for long periods, also reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and being overweight. Have you started counting those sitting hours yet?
You sit in your car driving to work, sit at a desk at work, sit to eat lunch and dinner, and sit to watch TV or read in the evening. How many hours was that compared to the hours you were actually standing or walking? In 2012 Time Magazine reported that sitting for more than 3 hours a day can take 2 years off your life.
Your DNA on the Couch is Aging
What’s worse is that even if you do exercise regularly, too much time sitting or lying down when you’re not exercising can still shorten your lifespan. Sitting for long periods of time actually shortens the telomeres on your DNA. Telomeres are like caps that protect your chromosomes; they naturally get shorter as we age but a sedentary lifestyle, being overweight, stress and smoking can all cause them to shorten rapidly. This causes premature aging of every cell, and with that all sorts of health risks.
Gravity is Your Health Partner
In her groundbreaking book, Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division, Joan Vernikos, shows us that the body is designed to function best in relation to gravity. Drawing on her experience and research with astronauts and weightlessness in space, she shows that movement that resists the force of gravity is necessary for good health.
Did you know that astronauts age rapidly in space weightlessness? Although they are more fit than most people going into space, their bones, muscles and general health deteriorate quickly to the point of having health problems associated with the elderly. Vernikos further shows that frequent movement throughout the day, every day, is better than an exercise program.
Micro-move and macro-move all day long to stay strong
Katy Bowman, M.S., the founder of Nutritious Movement talks about the body’s need for a multitude of different types of movement and sense experiences throughout the day for optimum health. Using nutrition terminology, she describes the types of daily movement that we need as being like vitamins and minerals that we might be deficient in.
Katy teaches people how to incorporate movement back into their life. Variety is important, being active in many ways, as well as increasing flexibility, strength and blood circulation in areas of the body that have become accustomed to less use. She is a proponent of getting rid of the comfy couch and recliner in favor of sitting on the floor and assuming a variety of postures throughout the day in both work and play.
So make gravity your best friend and workout partner. Sit less, embrace being vertical, move more, and use your entire body allowing it to experience a fuller range of motion as you go through your daily activities. You can improve your health without breaking a sweat.