Due to the sedentary lifestyle many of us lead, we are destroying our bodies. Sitting has become the new smoking, causing detrimental effects on the body and hugely impacting our health negatively.
Between sitting behind a desk all day and/or couch surfing watching TV, it has taken a toll on our health. Even if you do fit in some exercise, without making some additional changes in your lifestyle, it may not be enough to prevent the negative effects sitting can have on your health and body composition. Your exercise routine needs to be consistent to maintain body composition because muscle strength begins to fade after only 2 weeks of inactivity.
- Type 2 Diabetes and insulin resistance. Ever wonder why in the past few years, we hear so much about this health threat? It is because of the increased sedentary lifestyle, fast food, and poor nutrition. The pancreas makes a hormone called insulin. It’s what lets your cells turn glucose from the food you eat into energy. So even though people with type 2 diabetes make insulin, their cells don’t use it as they should.
- Burning body fat becomes harder to do. Enzymes that burn body fat decrease by 90% when sitting for an hour or longer.
- Muscles weaken and lose muscle mass. When you sit, you don’t use your gluteal and abdominal muscles or your legs, this causes the muscles to degenerate after extended periods.
- Circulation slows down. Sitting causes the blood flow to the brain and legs to slow down, causing you to experience brain fog, feel sluggish and puts you at risk for blood clots.
- Bones become brittle. Bones are strong when used; inactivity can lead to weak bones and possibly osteoporosis over time.
Now that you know what sitting for long periods of time can do to you, what can you do about it?
- Find opportunities to stand and stretch your legs every hour for a couple of minutes. Set your alarm on your phone or watch to remind you. When you stand, abdominal muscles, leg muscles, and gluteal muscles tighten. You will probably find that you feel more refreshed, experience an increase in energy and work more effectively. You will also benefit from an increase in your metabolism, muscle tone, improved posture, feel less back pain and burn more calories. Studies show this could increase your lifespan by 33%.
- Get a step tracker. It’s eye-opening to see how much time you spend sitting around.
- Sit on an exercise ball at your desk or while you watch tv for short periods.
- Get a standing or treadmill desk.
- Park your car further away from the entrance to work or stores. Forgo the elevator or escalator and take the stairs.
- Weight-bearing activities increase the durability and density of your bones.
- Find a type of physical activity that you enjoy such as tennis, walking, team training, jogging, basketball, bike riding, soccer with the kids, lifting weights, etc. An hour of activity every day could potentially offset the effects of sitting all day.
- Exercise and in particular, resistance/strength training, can prevent muscle atrophy, especially if you improve your nutrition. Even without a sedentary lifestyle, after the age of 30, people start to lose approximately 3-5 % muscle mass every 10 years.
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