In the middle of the last century, the world has witnessed a dramatic culture change which absorbed the great impact brought by a whirlwind of technological advancements, a revolution in communications, and drastic improvements in transportation. That being said, the lifestyle of the people from both ends, those hailing from developed countries and the contrary, has evolved from active to sedentary. This kind of lifestyle is now described as a pandemic, a disease that has struck the world in its entirety.
Facts about Sitting Disease
The word sedentary comes from the Latin word sedere which means ‘to sit’. True to its nature, a sedentary lifestyle is equated as a “Sitting Disease” which describes a person who sits or lies down for long periods of time.
Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that 1 in 4 adults is not active enough. Several research studies backs WHO on these facts; adults from Western countries spend 55% and 70% of their day sedentarily, equivalent to 9 to 11 hours per day spent just sitting with strikingly low numbers of physical activity that would raise the metabolic rate of a person.
With this in mind, the reverberations of having such lifestyle contributes to 9% of premature mortality in adults. Increased period of inactivity for prolonged periods of time has snowballed into the development of non communicable disease such as obesity, cardiovascular or heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health has shown that 18% of women who watch approximately 3+ hours of television in a day are more likely to suffer from depression.
Changing a Habit of a Lifetime
Aristotle once said “We are what we repeatedly do”, hence to live a sedentary lifestyle and to suffer its consequences primarily boils down to one’s choice. Despite the prevalence of Sitting Disease, people have a choice. Applying small changes in your daily inactivity would be able to help you move from being a couch potato to a standing, walking, and moving one.
- Choose NEAT
Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis, or also known as NEAT, is the energy expenditure of all physical activities other than volitional sporting exercise (Levine MD, 2007). The idea is to keep moving by doing “mundane” activities such as cleaning the house, doing repairs, stretching turning, bending rather than living in the chair. You can aim to do this for 10 minutes per hour, which is not time-consuming and achievable compared to committing yourself to an entire workout.
- Shift to an Active Lifestyle Mindset
For most, the default setting in going through one’s day at work would be to do easy tasks, but easy will not help you achieve the goals you have set in changing your lifestyle. As you go on in your day, many activities can be turned from inactive by choosing to do a more challenging version of it; for instance, use the stairs instead of the lift; rather than spending your breaks doing chit-chats in the pantry – walk around; or when you need to use the bathroom, go 5 floors down.
- Go Primitive
Because of the technological advances more people are now experiencing the convenience brought by the use of gadget, but this would just add up to your inactive way of living. Choose to get up and move rather than use gadgets to communicate like walking to your colleagues desk to speak with them.
- Turn off the Afternoon Snooze
Many believe in conserving their energy to be able to finish tasks but exercising or increasing your level of activity at that moment would give a paradoxical effect. Studies have shown that higher productivity results from a 15 minute brisk walk compared to resting in order to finish tasks.
- Do more while watching TV
The lure of the couch can be so enticing and if you find yourself still unable to resist it, choose to move while your eyes are on the tube. It can be as simple as folding clothes, standing while watching TV, doing simple exercises like jumping jacks while the commercial runs, or marching in place. Just keep moving.