How much time do you spend sitting each day? Give it some thought. Did you know that by simply cutting the number you get in half, you are already making a big step towards improving your overall health?
You’ve heard it all before – spend less time sitting and get moving. But this statement never grows old, especially now that more and more researches show how harmful prolonged sitting is for one’s health.
There are a lot of chronic conditions that are associated with sitting too much, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, among others. If you are wondering how something so seemingly harmless like sitting for hours can cause these conditions, here’s why: being sedentary for an extended period of time every single day can speed up your aging at the cellular level.
In a study conducted involving 1,500 older women, those who sat the longest appeared eight years older (biologically speaking) than those who moved around often.
SITTING FOR TOO LONG CAN MAKE YOU LOOK AND FEEL OLDER FASTER
You may not know it, but your lifestyle does make a difference in how fast your cells grow old. Every little thing you do has a role in your cells’ aging process – what you eat, how well you sleep, whether you smoke or not, and yes, even how long you sit in a day.
How does this happen?
Have you heard of telomeres? Those are like caps on the end of your DNA strands, just like the plastic caps covering the ends of shoelaces. Telomeres protect your chromosomes from fraying and damaging their genetic information.
Whenever a cell divides, the telomeres get a little shorter. That is why they are often used to measure biological aging. Women who sit for 10 hours a day or more have their telomeres shortened by about eight years. Shorter telomeres are also linked with such chronic conditions as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
There is hope!
It appears that women who exercised for 30 minutes or more each day did not have shorter telomeres even if they, too, sat for extended periods. This suggests that physical activities can have positive effects that could possibly counteract sitting for hours.
What Can You Do About It?
To help lessen your “sitting time” when you’re at work, you might want to consider getting a sit-stand desk which gives you the option of standing while working, so your health is not compromised and your productivity is not affected either. If this is not an option, you can practice getting up from your chair every 20 minutes or so and go for a two-minute walk. If possible, you can also ditch your chair and sit cross-legged on the floor as this is a healthier position.
Remember that you do not have to give up sitting altogether. Instead of focusing on how you can’t sit, think of how you can incorporate more movements in your day. Take it slow and transition with care. If you’re used to sitting for eight hours a day, you can’t expect yourself to be able to use your sit-stand desk fully the next day.
It’s also important that you practice a healthier lifestyle. Choose a new and active hobby. You can also visit Sloan Natural Health Center to learn more about living a healthy life the natural way.