- Did you know that sitting too much can be deadly?
- In fact, a sedentary lifestyle increases your risk for cardiovascular issues, cancer, metabolic disorders, and more.
- So, exactly how much daily movement does your body need to counteract a sedentary lifestyle?
One third of our global population over the age of 15 is reportedly getting less than the recommended amount of movement these days. The pandemic – and all of the sitting at computers our office jobs have created over the past several decades – has further highlighted the need for movement in our everyday life. While routines have ebbed and flowed drastically since in-office work was the norm, less physical activity has been trending. Whether it’s the work from home lifestyle, the adjustment of hormones because of stress, or any other number of reasons, staying active could prove more difficult for you now. More time sitting at a desk or feeling overwhelmed with all of the changes in the world around you can really take a toll on your health.
Movement is the best preventative medicine, as the body’s systems regulate better with more movement and agility. Regular exercise is scientifically shown to help prevent heart attacks, strokes, obesity, cancers, diabetes, and more. Exercise raises your heart rate, triggering energy production and regulation. It also releases endorphins into your body that are necessary in coping with pain and stress throughout the day. Not only this, but movement helps to keep your weight and lung function at manageable levels, helping you to operate better in most areas of your life.
For decades, doctors have suggested that 30 minutes of exercise per day could assist you in thriving throughout your entire life. And these doctors happen to be correct. While more exercise is definitely suggested, federal guidelines actually advocate for around 150 minutes of aerobic exercise weekly to sustain a healthy lifestyle. This averages out to far more than many of us engage in – about 30 minutes per day, five days per week.
More movement is often encouraged when energy levels are a concern. Are you incorporating regular movement into your every day activity? Exercise of any type raises energy-boosting neurotransmitters to the brain, and is known to directly increase productivity. Whether you’re using cortisol-conscious movement like yoga or tai chi, or learning more about your body’s limits through weight lifting, cardio, or a leisure activity, make sure to get moving.
With advancements in health research in the last couple of years, it has become obvious that the amount of sitting we are doing – grounding practices aside – has become counterproductive to our health. Not only are many of us sedentary at work or school for seven or more hours per day, but we also sit during church or spiritual practices, engaging in screen time, during mealtimes, enjoying entertainment, and much more. Then, hopefully, we are all getting 6-8 hours of sleep per night, which is also a sedentary activity. All of the sitting we are doing may be taking a toll on our bodies similar to smoking cigarettes on a regular basis.
Recent research combined results from six studies profiling over 130,000 adults across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Sweden over the course of 4-14 years. Thirty minutes of exercise helped to reduce the risk of early death by 80% in adults who sat for 7 hours per day. For those of us who find ourselves sitting far more than the assumed 7 or so hours per day, more movement is definitely necessary to reap any health benefits.
If you’re spending between 11 and 12 hours per day sitting – as many of us are – 30 minutes of exercise per day will only reduce that same risk by 30%. It is suggested, instead, to incorporate light activity like cleaning, gardening, crafting, or commuting in addition to your exercise. People who sit more often during their day should be getting closer to an hour of exercise every day.
More movement is also connected to the development of better sleep habits and health. People who get 8 hours of sleep and have a regulated circadian rhythm are less likely to develop diabetes, cancers, and other inflammatory diseases. Some simple ways to help reduce your blood pressure include getting regular exercise (about 150 minutes per week, and especially cortisol-conscious workouts), limiting the amount of alcohol you consume, eliminating any smoking or second-hand smoking habits, and incorporating mindfulness into your routine.
Movement also helps to reduce feelings of agitation, increase productivity, and enhance mood and memory capabilities. Simple movements like dancing can help revitalize your body, as well as help you live longer. During your busy days, a 10-minute interval run can help get your heart rate going, especially early in the morning. As always, speak with your health practitioner if your lifestyle and health are a concern.