Sitting Disease: A 21st Century Invention
We sit too much. In fact, most of us sit an average of thirteen hours out of a 16-hour waking day. This breaks down to about two hours for meals, one hour of commuting to and from work, seven hours sitting at work, and three hours of sitting at home (watching TV, surfing the internet or doing more work). That’s a total of thirteen hours. You might be wondering why I care about this. It’s because sitting this much is burdening us with illnesses we can easily prevent just by not sitting so much. Our 21st century lifestyle has created a new disease that is attributed to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, lower back pain, colon cancer, and depression. What’s it called? Sitting disease. Though not officially recognized by the American Medical Association, sitting disease is the name commonly used when referring to metabolic syndrome and the ill-effects of an overly sedentary lifestyle.
One of the largest studies into the effects of our sedentary lifestyles was completed in 2012 by the Medical College of Wisconsin. Researchers from Loughborough University and the University of Leicester assessed nearly 800,000 people from a range of countries. In the study, they found “incredibly strong evidence linking excessive sitting to poor health. Compared to people who sit the least, those who spend most time in a chair have a 112 per cent higher risk of developing diabetes, a 147 per cent higher risk of suffering “cardiovascular events” such as strokes and a 49 per cent increased risk of death from any cause.” A whopping 3.2 million deaths annually are attributed to a sedentary lifestyle. We need to change if we are going to survive, and survive well.
Humans are not meant for a sedentary lifestyle, but the way we have been trained to live keeps us in our seats more than on our feet. It affects children and adults alike. The fact that we have two feet attached to two legs might be enough proof to show we are beings that require standing and motion to stay vibrant and healthy. And when we go to a deeper level—to the atoms, molecules, subatomic particles and quantum energy that are our foundation—we see these are in constant motion. More proof that we are meant to move more than sit. Why do we sit so much today compared to centuries past?
Stagnation through Convenience and Programming
Cavemen and cavewomen stood and moved more than they sat. They were dealing with the work of the day—catching food, finding housing, making clothes by hand. They didn’t have the internet and the television to occupy their time. In fact, if we look at humans right up to the 20th century, we can see that stagnation began as modern conveniences became prevalent—when we had stuff done for us more than we did stuff for ourselves.
Take banking as an example. In America, most banking is done online, but when we have to actually get in the car and drive to the bank, we stay in the car and do all of our banking from our seats at the drive-thru. More sitting. By contrast, in most of Britain, people drive to the bank, park (not close to the building usually), walk into the bank, stand in line for up to fifteen minutes, and then walk back to their cars and drive home. Walking and standing for this short period of time is much healthier than sitting in the car the entire time. We have swapped modern convenience for health.
I can see the culprit behind sitting disease from another, more soul-based, point of view. Let me lay the groundwork for this view by saying everything is an energetic frequency. There are low frequencies and high frequencies. Low frequencies are out of sync with our highest frequency soul selves so they tend to make us unwell. Here’s the soul self view: It’s possible that the sedentary life we live mirrors the low frequency beliefs and thoughts we have about ourselves, others and the world.
The training we are given for our viewpoint in life is heavy on lack and limitation (low frequencies) and light on abundance and boundlessness (high frequencies). This lacking, limited picture of life we often believe in is repetitive, unimaginative, boring and, well, stagnant. The stagnation happens as we repeatedly react in the same ways to mind-created drama that wouldn’t exist outside of our training. Maybe all of the sitting is a physical manifestation of our stagnant beliefs and thoughts. Just something to consider.
No matter what the reason for our endless hours of sitting, one thing is certain—we need to get off our back sides more often each day. The good news is, there is a divine gift in all things and sitting disease is a great example of a such a gift. This is because the very thing that has made us so unwell—sitting too much—is also our wakeup call to begin healing. Divine.
Sitting disease is easy to remedy. Stand up more often. The benefits of standing and moving are far-reaching. We can tone muscles, improve our posture, increase blood flow, and burn extra calories just by standing more each day. Sounds like a winner. How do we stand more each day with an office job, kids, homework to get donem and the exhaustion of the day that makes us want to sit? We have to do something different than what we have been doing.
Here is an interesting fact: the majority of seated workers in America today said they would rather stand than sit at work. For this, there are standing desks and retrofit stands for sitting desks that can be purchased without breaking the corporate budget. If you have a regular office chair, consider a wellness ball as a seat. Such seats encourage you to stand more and also allow a little bouncing throughout the day which stimulates your lymph system—great for overall health. Instead of having a boardroom meeting, consider getting outside for a walking meeting with colleagues, even if the weather isn’t perfect.
Below are five more ways we can begin standing today.
- Take the stairs. You probably knew this one was on the list. But taking the stairs always has been, and still is, one of the best ways to move your body, burn calories, give your heart a regular beating, and get the blood flowing.
- Swap TV for Tai Chi. Television was known in the 1970s as the “Boob Tube”. There’s a reason for that and it hasn’t changed. Instead of binge watching your TV or even surfing the internet (Facebook binging, perhaps), take up Tai Chi, Qigong, yoga, or some other peaceful moving arts. All of these get you off the sofa and on your feet, even if you have to use your hands sometimes, too, for a lymph-squeezing downward dog. Even more though, they move energy within the body that heals you. You can find freebies of all these ancient healing practices on YouTube.
- Stand while talking on the phone. We usually sit when we talk on the phone, but maybe we could talk standing up or walking from here on out. This is a great idea for anyone who is on the phone a lot at work. You will be amazed at how much stronger you get just by standing. You might want to prop up one foot every so often to relieve back pressure and get a nice cushy mat under your feet for a comfy day of productivity.
- Park away from the door. This is a tough one when the weather isn’t sunny and 75 degrees outside, but it’s important to add walking time (which is standing time) to your day every chance you get. Parking far from the entrance is a great way to do it. Don’t park where it’s unsafe, but don’t park in front of the door either. Over the course of one year, you could add up to 40,000 upright, healthy steps to your life.
- Stop using the leaf blower. Perfect timing for this one as the leaves are just about to fall. Ditch the leaf blower and rake your leaves the old-fashioned way. Not only will you reduce noise and fuel pollution, but you can burn 50 or more calories per hour and you might even tone up those bingo wings (men have them, too). Besides all that, you’ll sleep better! Nothing like a good night’s sleep after an afternoon working in the yard or garden!
There are so many ways to stand up more each day. Being aware that we are sitting too much is the first step in healing from sitting disease. Making the changes needed is the second step. None of the changes needed are difficult and most don’t cost money. See how many ways you can stand up more each day. Share your ideas with your family, friends, and colleagues. You’ll be so glad you did.
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