It’s no joke: a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to heart disease, anxiety, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. A person who is seated for over five hours a day is put considerably more at risk of experiencing one or more of these health issues than one who exercises for even just four hours per week. A recent study published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that men who reported spending two or more hours per day sitting in front of a television had twice the risk of having a heart attack or cardiac “event” than the men who reported watching less television. And men who said they spent four or more hours being sedentary had a 50% higher chance of dying from any cause. So…if you want to start enjoying life you have to stand up and say no to being a couch potato!
In case you are curious (I hope you are), here is a breakdown of what actually happens when you sit or lay down for an extended period of time?
- Immediately after sitting your calorie burning rate drops 1 calorie per minute. This means that if you sit for an hour you burned 60 calories less that hour than if you were standing. If you stand 5 hours more each day (instead of sit or lay) you can burn 300 more calories each day.
- Your muscles weaken.
- You gain weight as your cells become more fatty.
- If you sit 6 hours per day or more you can experience all of these symptoms. Cholesterol, weight gain, insulin resistance and in women a decrease in bone mass by 1% per year if you sit 6 hours per day or more.
Here are some useful ideas to help you get up off the couch and back in the game:
- Avoid eating while watching TV. The more you get used to doing this the more time you will be able to spend on the couch. Try to make a habit of setting aside time for meals away from the TV.
- Rest and relaxation are integral ingredients of a healthy and happy life, but too much idle behavior will do you no good in the end. When you go to sit down in front of the TV, set yourself a limit on the time spent in front of it.
3 Join a sports team. It could be at your local soccer club or it could be as simple as forming a bowling team with good friends. The commitment necessary to be a valued team player will give you the encouragement you need get off the settee regularly.
- Stand up while watching a TV show, movie, or television or reading. This may sound odd but it will become easier over time and it just trains you to stand more often.
- Go for more walks. Our body works better when we walk! Our digestive system is improved, circulation and lymphatic drainage are improved and so much more. Best thing is that walking is easy!
- Everybody needs time to relax and a good long couch session every now and again can be good for your state of mind – but too much is detrimental to your health. Don’t think of it as a loss of relaxation time, but rather as time gained socializing, improving your health and quality of life!