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Are We Sitting Too Much?

Are we sitting too much?

People don’t like to acknowledge they are couch potatoes. The term is associated with spending excessive amounts of time on the computer or watching TV, but it’s more than that. Being a high school student myself, seeing firsthand how lazy my generation can be is a tad worrying. Gone are the days when your only source of entertainment was getting outside and being active. Now with the internet and phones, it is even easier for one to become glued to the screen for hours on end.

Next time you are with your friends/colleagues, ask them if they think they fall into the sedentary lifestyle category. People are becoming more conscious of the need for exercise, so you will probably get a response along the lines of: “Oh of course not, I’m at the gym 3 times a week for an hour, and I’m constantly moving around at home.” Then ask them how long they sit for at work every week. Now we have a problem.

In 2012, a Canadian survey found that people worked 36.6 hours per week on average. Keeping in mind that most people have a desk job, that is a lot of hours spent letting the body vegetate. A supposed fix to this problem is the standing desk. This piece of furniture has been around since the 19th century and really hasn’t changed much since. Even famous figures such as Benjamin Franklin and Winston Churchill have been noted to use the special desk.  You can write, type, and use the computer all while standing up.

We know that the standing desk gets people out of their chairs, but what does this accomplish? A lot actually, as hundreds of studies have been published on the negative effects of sitting for long periods. One study of 200,000 Australians in 2012 found that those who sat for 11 hours or more every day were 40% more likely to die over the next three years. Other studies have found that Colon Cancer, Diabetes, and Heart Disease were also linked to inactivity. Even if you happen to exercise throughout the week after sitting around, you will still be digging yourself an early grave according to the research.

When you sit down, your body’s crucial functions come to a halt. Your heart rate slows and your muscles cease to move, which can all lead to health issues after long periods of time. It is the exact opposite with standing, as your muscles and normal bodily functions are completely engaged and working as they are meant to.

So, since science has proven that it’s better for humans to get up and stand, what are we waiting for? You can’t dispute the facts; it’s glaringly obvious what people should be doing now. The standing desk could be one solution to the problem of inactivity, but it shouldn’t be the only one. We should ideally mold our lifestyles around healthy living and physical activity that promotes fit bodies. In the meantime, invest in yourself, instead of that new “ergonomic” chair.

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