One study showed that athletes are up to 30% LESS active throughout the remainder of the day than their peers!
That morning running, doesn’t mean you can spend the rest of the hunched over a computer, your iPad and finally the tv. It’s not just me saying that, science is backing it up and hence the new term “active couch potato” referring to someone who may meet exercise guidelines, but is still getting all the negative effects of too much sitting.
Separate from time spent exercising, experts believe that too much time sitting has some major impacts on our health. That’s right you can exercise, but still sit enough to get the negative effects after just an hour of consecutive sitting…let alone the total of 10 plus hours most of people sit daily.Surely by now you’ve heard the slogan “sitting is the new smoking”. In case you haven’t seen the science behind that, here’s a little break down for you of some specific issues as detailed by Dr. Mercola:
- Heart: When you sit, blood flows slower and muscles burn less fat, which makes it easier for fatty acids to clog your heart. Research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, for instance, showed that women who sit for 10 or more hours a day may have a significantly greater risk of developing heart disease than those who sit for five hours or less.
- Pancreas: Your body’s ability to respond to insulin is affected by just one day of excess sitting, which leads your pancreas to produce increased amounts of insulin, and this may lead to diabetes.
- Colon Cancer: Excess sitting may increase your risk of colon, breast, and endometrial cancers. The mechanism isn’t known for certain, but it could be due to excess insulin production, which encourages cell growth, or the fact that regular movement boosts antioxidants in your body that may eliminate potentially cancer-causing free radicals.
- Digestion: Sitting down after you’ve eaten causes your abdominal contents to compress, slowing down digestion. Sluggish digestion, in turn, can lead to cramping, bloating, heartburn, and constipation, as well as dysbiosis in your gastrointestinal tract, a condition caused by microbial imbalances in your body.
- Back Problems: Sitting puts more pressure on your spine than standing, and the toll on your back health is even worse if you’re sitting hunched in front of a computer. It’s estimated that 40 percent of people with back pain have spent long hours at their computer each day.
- Hip Problems: Your hips also suffer from prolonged sitting, becoming tight and limited in range of motion because they are rarely extended. In the elderly, decreased hip mobility is a leading cause of falls.
- Weak Bones: Walking, running, and engaging in other weight-bearing activities lead to stronger, denser bones. Lack of activity may cause weak bones and even osteoporosis.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Beyond your run, the usual recommendation is 10,000 steps daily. The 10,000-steps recommendation isn’t totally scientific. Pedometers sold in Japan in the 1960s were named “manpo-kei,” which translates to “10,000 steps meter”…so it’s a nice trackable number if nothing else!
Unfortunately, I think for runners the idea of yet another gadget is often overwhelming so we skip the daily tracking and just focus on our runs…Beyond wearing the fitness tracker, one of the easiest things you can do is STAND UP.
While standing alone doesn’t burn a great deal more calories, it does force muscle activation. But you have to stand with the right posture, so if you do begin working at a standing desk make sure you aren’t making things worse by skipping a standing mat and good posture (more on this soon!).
And of course here are my top stretches to undo the effects of sitting all day>>
So to recap if you want to avoid the effects of too much sitting:
- Stand up more throughout the day
- Walk more errands, take walk breaks at least every hour
- Stretch out those tight muscles
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