How many hours do you sit per day? Chances are that you spend at least 6 hours a day sitting. Unfortunately it is a sign of progress when we spend more time sitting doing intellectual activities than doing manual labor. It would not be that bad of a lifestyle if it were not for some shocking statistics: men and women who sit more than 6 hours a day and are physically inactive are 94% and 48% (respectively) more likely to die earlier than their peers who are physically active and spend less than 3 hours a day sitting. These numbers look horrible to me!
I must admit that I live a sedentary lifestyle. Even though I am pretty active (I run and work out at home) my job requires long hours in front of a computer (how many of you lead the same life?) Just because I do what I love doing to make money does not mean that I want to have health problems. I am sure you understand my concerns.
At first I wanted to write about the risks of a sedentary lifestyle but then I realized how gloomy a post like that would look. You can google “sedentary lifestyle” if you want to find out about all the dangers. Instead I want to show you how an active lifestyle can benefit all areas of your life. But I’ll tell you more about that in just 20 seconds (that’s how long it will take you read the next paragraph and answer a mini poll.)
I can’t tell you in one post how to change your lifestyle from sedentary to active, however I am making a commitment to change my life. I invite you to join me. It will take more than one day to implement the changes and alter daily routines. It will take a team effort to support each other. It will take strong commitment to the goal and timely motivation to keep going.
How many of you want to join me and change your lifestyle to a healthier one? Please answer below (if you are reading this post via email or in your RSS reader, please go to the blog to answer this question.)
Benefits of an active lifestyle
People usually look at exercise as a means to lose weight. As long as they do not have weight problems they do not care about it.
I currently teach Pilates to one really amazing woman. If you look at her you would think “WOW, she is in great shape! She does not have any extra pounds; she has good posture and seems very active.” This is the exact reason why this lady never exercised in her life (and it’s been a pretty long life already.) Right now she rips the results of her low activity lifestyle in the form of back pain and limited mobility in her joints. I respect her greatly for choosing a healthier lifestyle now and sticking to it. Her progress is already amazing and I know that any person can change their lifestyle for better no matter when they start.
An active lifestyle prevents premature death.
You can easily link pretty much any fatal or chronic condition with sedentary lifestyle. Heart disease, strokes, cancer, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, asthma and other respiratory conditions – all of these conditions can be prevented, postponed or improved with an active lifestyle. People who are active throughout their life tend to have less health problems and spend less money on their medical bills. Here is a recent graph from the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health promotion
Active people are happier.
Regular exercise decreases the risks of depression in adults and helps to fight it for those who are already suffering from this condition. One recent study compared the effects of exercise and drug therapy in people suffering from depression. While the ones who took antidepressants improved the fastest, still about 60% of the patients in the exercise group were no longer classified as depressed after completing a regimented exercise program.
These results show how important an active lifestyle is for a regular person. Why do we have to wait until something is wrong in our lives if we can prevent it altogether by being active every day? It does not cost anything but brings tons of pleasure and excitement.
An active lifestyle improves creative thinking.
Do you wish to be more creative in life? Maybe you want to find a great solution at work or you want to figure out how to make a million bucks online (well, I have not gotten that far yet.) Maybe you need creativity to write amazing articles or to find a creative approach to your toddler or teenager. While many people look for creativity in books or on websites, exercise is the best and most easily available muse generator.
I have personally noticed that I get the best ideas for posts or for my online projects after a run or even after a 10 minute Yoga routine. This active break reboots my system and helps me look at a problem (task) creatively.
An active lifestyle makes your body look and feel better.
Saying that is almost like saying that the sky is blue. Everybody knows that. And yet an active lifestyle improves not only your looks (say good bye to those inches around the waist) but also the functioning of your body.
About 80% of all Americans will see a doctor because of a back pain at some point of their life.
While injuries are frequent causes of those pains, a sedentary lifestyle and sitting for hours is the silent enemy who is destroying your well-being day after day. Check out my experience with back pain to learn more about it.
Sitting for hours creates muscular imbalances in your body which make you prone to injuries and unexplained chronic pains.
An active lifestyle sets you apart from the majority.
Consider these facts
- each hour spent in front of the TV or sitting increases your chances of dying of all causes by 11%
- about 60% of all Americans are classified as sedentary, almost 30% report no leisure-time activity and
- only 5% of all Americans engage in vigorous activity on any given day.
An active lifestyle has greater benefits than working out.
I was surprised to find out that working out for an hour is not enough to undo the damage of sitting for the rest of the day. Men and women who sat for more than 6 hours a day were 18% and 34% (respectively) more likely to die prematurely then those who sat less than 3 hours a day. These stats remained virtually unchanged after adjusting for physical activity level.
Sitting slows down the metabolism in our bodies and actually makes us store fat. Inactivity does not only make us use less calories (resulting in weight gain) but it also lowers the levels of lipoprotein lipase (a molecule that is produced by our muscles when they are active) which plays a central role in how the body processes fats.
What this means is that it is important to move around throughout the day even if it means walking to your colleague’s office or parking further from the entrance. There is no excuse for sitting around all the time.
Life often gets in the way of an active lifestyle. As a work-from-home mom of twins I know about that. I also remember the days when I had to work 8 hours a day and study in college at the same time. Fitting exercise into my lifestyle has never been an easy thing for me. I have actually become a fitness instructor to make extra time for physical activity. I do not know how what my health would be like now if I didn’t put so much effort into staying active all the time.
How active are you? Do you want to be more active in your everyday life? Let’s start the journey from a sedentary to active lifestyle together. Not only you but also people you love will benefit from this change. Do not forget to answer the poll above and leave your wonderful comments with your concerns, questions or tips about active lifestyle.
Keep it balanced.
P.S. Do not take my word for granted and check out the resources that I have used to write this article: