Living Well – Sitting can be deadly – get on your feet and move

Wayne Little's monthly column about exercise, nutrition and motivation.

In the old days, smoking was killing people but no one said a word about it. Now, our culture is ending smoking, either by laws that say you can’t really smoke anywhere without standing out in the cold, all alone, or by taxes that make it inaffordable, or due to the fact that your family has encouraged you to quit. Now, sitting is the new smoking.

Picture it, for many of the people I work with who run equipment – this is their day…

Get up in the morning, eat breakfast and have a cup of coffee while sitting at the table, then hop in the car and drive half to one hour to work. Sit on the bench to hear the line-up of your job details and a safety meeting, sit on the bus to get dropped off at your dozer, shovel, or haul truck, then sit all day on your butt as you work, even during your breaks. Then reverse the process to get home – bus, car pool, eat dinner at the table, sit down to watch some TV, then go to bed to do the process all over again tomorrow.

If, for one second, you believe this kind of lifestyle where sitting 48-60 hours per week is good for you, I’ve got some bad news. Plus I can show you proof of it. With so many overweight, miserable, depressed people slugging away every day in similar sedentary jobs, it’s a road that leads to diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, obesity, back pain and cancer.

Researchers say that “sitting is the new smoking”. They have proven that a job where you sit a minimum of six hours/day is seriously detrimental to your health. The risk increases with every two hours sitting after the first six hours. Sitting for one hour per day shaves 21 minutes off your life expectancy. Whether its sitting in a highway truck, at a desk, or on a dozer, it doesn’t matter.

We need to feed our families though, so what choice do you have? Well, there are things you can do to minimize the effects of sitting all day. If you don’t have the energy to do some pushups, body weight squats, toe touches or some light stretching during your breaks, simply standing up will help you. Just get up off that seat and stand during your breaks. If your job involves sitting at a desk, there are standing desk options.

Another thing that helps immensely is doing a light workout before heading off to work. This will increase your metabolism for the duration of day. I know it’s hard getting up that early, but it will make you feel better throughout the day. Find something that is easy for you and enjoyable. It could be to go for a half hour walk or light jog, an easy core workout, or some strength training. Trust me, once it becomes a routine for you it will be easy.

Whether you believe in evolution or not, humans were not designed to sit. We are originally nomadic people. We are supposed to move, all day long, to hunt and gather for our food. We used to literally run down our food to catch them so we could eat. Heck, we didn’t even sit to use the washroom like we do now.

But like I said, we still have a job to do, and that is to provide for our families, this will never change, and it will probably be in a career we don’t enjoy doing. Taking the time to do some metabolism-boosting exercising throughout the day can make a huge difference.

Wayne Little