Is there such a thing as sitting disease?
Becoming aware of how inactive we really are is normally all it takes for people to sit less and move more. Our feet were made for walking – but that’s not what we do. Our bodies were made to move yet we remain sedentary. This is a fact of our modern world, which is in conflict with our prehistory bodies. Most of us are chained to our desk and on the way there and back, we’re strapped into seat belts. We’re still and not moving. Now what happens to anything if it sits still for too long? Our bodies are no different.
Sedentariness has been coined the “sitting disease” and “sitting is the new smoking” has become a coined phrase. Perhaps these claims are blown out of proportion, but I really believe that they make a valid point to a very serious problem.
Why are there chairs that are more expensive than treadmills? Because we’re not supposed to be sitting so chair manufacturers have had to put a lot of money into researching what chairs can make us stay comfortable in the most unnatural environment – on our butts.
Many of my clients have knee, hip and back pain mainly because they sit too much. When I got them practicing new rituals, which I outline later in this chapter, their body pains magically disappeared. A not so obvious residual benefit is that people not in chronic pain are happier and when they’re happier and their emotion facet is in balance it’s easier to keep the weight off.
My friend and webmaster, Steve Andrade from Digital Dabster, refers to sitting still as similar to the low power mode on your phone. When we’re sitting we’re signaling to our body and mind that it’s time to rest, not to be active. It’s time to conserve power and transition into “low-power mode.” When we’re in low power mode, all of our mind and body systems go into rest mode as well. This would include our digestive system, nervous system, circulatory system and most importantly, our metabolism.
The first signal that your body will register that it needs to wake up and prepare for activity will be if you’re standing and not sitting. The second signal that your body will register is if you’re moving instead of standing still. This activates all of our mind and body physiological and psychological systems and gets us into gear to perform at our best. It also activates arguably the most important physiological system that we need to lose the weight and keep it off– our metabolism!
Many times when we’re feeling tired, cranky and bloated, all we need to do is get off our butts and start moving.
A client named Marion complained to me about the fact she was always feeling bloated. She was convinced it was an allergy to gluten and she needed to stop eating wheat products. She also told me about other digestive issues she had been experiencing for years including chronic constipation. There were some periods where she wouldn’t have a bowel movement for up to 3-5 days.
My intuition told me that we needed to review her activity stats and when I compiled a quick report I discovered that Marion was a very sedentary individual. She had the typical lifestyle of a two-hour commute back and forth from work where she had a sit-down desk job. She was sitting for approximately ten hours during the daytime. During her downtime she preferred to watch television and that accounted for another 2-3 hours of sitting so in total Marion was sitting for at least 12 hours out of the 15 hours or 80% of her daily awake time. She did exercise 2-3 times per week using the treadmill in her basement, but that only accounted for an additional 1-2 hours of additional weekly activity. Hardly enough activity to make up for the sitting lifestyle she had become accustomed to.
Marion saw the logic in this so we agreed she would start to increase her activity and see what effect it would have on her digestive issues. We agreed she would walk for 15 minutes two times per day. We reviewed her daily schedule and decided that we would use half of the one hour lunch break she was given at work to complete her first 15 minute walk. Marion also had a co-worker that had been asking her to come for lunchtime walks so she would take her up on the offer which would keep her more accountable and she would also be able to socialize and have some time away from her work while walking with her friend.
After Marion completed her 7 days of walking twice per day for 15 minutes, I asked her how she was feeling internally. She told me that after the third day she started feeling less bloated. Also, her bowel movements had increased from once every three days to having a movement every other day. Her energy seemed to double in the week that she started moving more and she was much happier!
When we begin moving, all of our mind and body systems are activated or turned on and we instantly feel better. This always amazes me that when I have been sitting at my desk and writing for hours and feeling drained and tired, although I have to force myself out of the chair to go for a walk, after I return I feel re-energized. It’s paradoxical that when we expend energy we create inner energy, but that’s how our bodies and minds work. They need to be turned on and in high power mode if we want them to perform at their best.
Inspire to Aspire,
Kris J. Simpson