I’m behind on the news here a little bit but a fascinating story appeared recently in the New York Times Magazine. Is Sitting a Lethal Activity discusses the idea that spending too much time sitting is harmful to our health. In fact the article suggests the following:
“Sitting, it would seem, is an independent pathology. Being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterward or hit the gym. It is bad whether you are morbidly obese or marathon-runner thin. ‘Excessive sitting,’ Mayo Clinic researcher Dr. James Levine says, ‘is a lethal activity.'”
Okay, so this is no revelation to most of us. We know that moving is generally healthier than sitting. So if we exercise enough then we should be able to counteract the effects of sitting right? Not so fast. The Times article suggests that in fact we may not be able to exercise our way out of the risks of our seated lifestyle. The article states:
“A growing body of inactivity research, however, suggests that this advice makes scarcely more sense than the notion that you could counter a pack-a-day smoking habit by jogging. ‘Exercise is not a perfect antidote for sitting,’ says Marc Hamilton, an inactivity researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.”
So what does this mean? It seem that according to the evidence in the article, sitting is unhealthy. (Specifically we might say that lack of movement not sitting in and of itself.) If we do too much of it we’ll get sick and die early–whether or not we exercise a lot. This isn’t good! Most of the Western world sits for a living. We sit at computers. Then we sit in cars for transportation. Then for entertainment we sit in front of a television. HOURS and HOURS of sitting is our way of life. So what can we do?
Well, part of the research into this issue by Dr. Levine included the wearing of a special electronically wired “magic underwear” that measured the wearer’s movement. The researchers found that healthier people moved more during the day but it wasn’t necessarily in the form of exercise. They fidgeted more or simply engaged in many small movements throughout the day. Even leaning down and tying a shoe can generate a burst of movement that should ultimately lead to better health. (The term for all this small, non-exercise movement is NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Read more about NEAT here, here and here.)
Z-Health R-Phase joint mobility drills are tailor made to address our modern lack of movement. Any number of these drills directly counter the hours we spend immobilized in chairs. Following are three joint mobility drills that you can perform while seated. Moving our joints in these ways sends bursts of mechanoreceptor signals to the brain and basically lets the nervous system know that we’re still alive.