Yoga is an important practice not only for its physical, mental, and emotional benefits but also for how it inspires us to spend more time moving! Take a moment to think about how much time you spend sitting on an average day; especially on an average work day. For those of us who have jobs that require manual labor, probably not as much. But for those who work at an office, or even who work at home on the computer, we may not realize just how much time we spend sitting down.
Take yourself through an average day. You wake up, eat breakfast (probably sitting down), drive to work (sitting down), get to your desk (and sit down), eat lunch (sitting down), continue to work (sitting down), drive home (sitting down), maybe get in a workout or yoga practice, eat dinner (sitting down), and then finish out your day with a tv show or movie (sitting down). Of course this is not the routine that everyone has, but it is one that is more common than we may like to admit.
A group of Australian researchers have been working for over 10 years to understand the impacts that too much sitting can have on our health. Through their extensive studies, they have found that an average of 75% of the workday is spent sitting. And that is a problem! When we sit, our blood flow and metabolism slow down which leads to less oxygen in our brain, and therefore makes us feel tired and less focused than we otherwise would. When we sit excessively, we increase our risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, depression, and musculoskeletal disorders. For workers who have been engaged in sedentary roles for more than 10 years, they have double the risk of developing colon cancer. And even doing daily exercise doesn’t do much to offset the effects of all this sitting. The research is clear, we need more than just a little exercise to cancel out the negative impacts that sitting has on our bodies. And that is where yoga comes in! Having a regular yoga practice helps to raise body awareness. By being more in touch with our bodies, we will naturally be more likely to move more because it’s what our bodies will be asking for.
Now that you’re aware of the negative impacts that so much sitting has on your body, what can you do about it? How can you start to shift your home and office culture so that you can begin to lessen the effects of all this sitting? Well, the Australian BeUpstanding™ program suggests three things: stand up, sit less, and move more. Make sure that you stand up when your body tells you to, or at least every 30 minutes (even if it’s just to stretch, go to the bathroom, or walk back and forth down the hall). Do your best to sit less (especially at work or when you’re doing something that requires that you stay in one place for an extended period of time). You can do this by joining the standing desk movement (make sure to sit and stand – just standing all day is harmful to your body as well). Also, when you’re watching something on TV, get yourself down to the floor to do some stretching, roll on a foam roller, or do myofascial release on yourself. Moving more doesn’t require that you give up things that you really enjoy like watching the nightly news or finishing out the day with your favorite TV show. You can incorporate movement into the things you enjoy!
Take a couple minutes to set a new movement goal for yourself. What can you do, starting today, to incorporate more movement into your day-to-day life?
This article was written by Haley Lovejoy of A.G.A.P.E. Wellness