Recently, I enjoyed sitting and reading some New York Times fitness articles by Gretchen Reynolds. One article, Sit Less, Live Longer? noted that less sitting could slow the aging process. The more hours that people are engaged in the sedentary state of sitting, the more likely that they may develop diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions, even if they exercise regularly. In brief, standing up, even if standing still, is better for you than sitting.
In a separate article, Sitting is Bad for Children, Too, Reynolds noted that “children who sit too much may face adult-sized consequences.” Reynolds cited a study that focused on the arterial functioning of girls between the ages of 9 through 12 that found “a profound reduction in vascular function” when the girls sat for three uninterrupted hours. When the three hours were broken up with exercise, their vascular functioning showed no decline.
The message of these articles, for both adults and children, is to stand up and move around, at least every hour. Even if you enjoy your television, computer, Kindle, iPad, and/or cell phone, you should take a break to stand or take a little walk. At home, stroll around your kitchen, bedroom, or get some fresh air outside. At school, students should be encouraged to stand, stretch, and/or take a walk around the classroom, hallways, or outside.
Personally, I had gotten into the habit, at home, of sitting and reading, watching television, and working on the computer. At work, I found myself sitting more often than not as I was experiencing a lot of pain in my hip. I found it difficult to perform daily activities, and I noticed that I did not navigate as much as I had previously. During the summer of 2015, I received a total right hip replacement. I now “move about the cabin” more easily and with no pain.
I still sit and read, but now I enjoy standing and walking both at work and at home. I am fortunate that my doctors helped me to resume an active lifestyle. And, now that I am able to do so, I enjoy and appreciate the activity much more. Be sure to move about each hour. Your body, your doctor, and I’m sure others, will appreciate it.
Dr. Barbara Parkins
as published in Community Health, Winter 2016