Intermittent Movement

I came across the term ‘sedentary disease’ around mid 80’s.

There was a lot of talk about it then.

There is even more talk, and more thorough research about it now – and the situation is worsening with each passing year.

Most of us work at a desk job, that is an 8 hour work day spent on our seat.

Add to that some more sitting:

  • on our commute, 
  • time spent relaxing on our sofa/armchair, 
  • sitting down for meals (not that I’m suggesting otherwise in respect of meal times!), 
  • time in front of TV/Netflix,
  • time browsing the net and FB/IG/Twitter…

Some people try to fit in an hour of exercise perhaps 3-4 times weekly, maybe even daily.

But apart from that one single hour spent exercising – we are sat down for most of our day.

The contemporary research has come up with a very conclusive result about the extent of damage our inactivity costs us.

  • Cancers.
  • diabetes
  • anxiety and depression.
  • cardiovascular diseases.
  • cerebrovascular disease (strokes etc).
  • obesity.
  • decrease in muscle mass.
  • decrease in bone mass.
  • high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels.
  • all-cause mortality.

For more info follow this link to the research in Annals of Clinical and Laboratory SciencesPhysical Inactivity: Associated Diseases and Disorders’ by Joseph A. Knight M.D.; Department of Pathology, University of Utah School of Medicine, © 2012

Some interesting facts for you too:

1.  35- 49% of UK population is inactive (depending on the region – North of England tops the stats)

2.  On average, most Westerners sit 11 hours/day.

3. Inactivity kills more than poor dietary habits – A lack of exercise could be killing twice as many people as obesity in Europe, a 12-year study of more than 300,000 people suggests. University of Cambridge researchers said about 676,000 deaths each year were down to inactivity, compared with 337,000 from carrying too much weight

4. 20% of all deaths of people 35 and older are attributed to a lack of physical activity.

5. 65% of UK residents watch 3.5 or more hours of TV/streaming channels every day. (totalling a whooping 25+ hours a week!!)

6. Only 2.5% of UK population meet the minimal physical guideline requirements for exercise..

7. Sedentary lifestyle is implicated as the cause of almost 70,000 deaths and cost the NHS at least £700m a year, new research has revealed.

8. Women are more likely to lead sedentary lives than men.

Scary stuff, right?!

So what can we do about it?

Ayurveda suggests that the optimum amount of movement for each person starts with a  minimum of 20 minutes daily morning practice, which can vary in intensity over the week, depending on your natural constitution (dosha).

Ayurveda also goes a step further. It suggests that we should move more frequently throughout the day, interrupting our long stretches of sitting with a quick 60 seconds breaks.

The simple act of standing up from a seated position has been found effective at counteracting the detrimental health effects of sitting.

Various research confirms that a reasonable goal is to get up four times every hour, or every 15 minutes, while you are sitting. Based on double-blind research, the minimum number of times you need to interrupt your sitting in order to counteract its cardiovascular health risks is around 35 times per day. 

(And – should you wish to know-  I have just got up again, and pranced around my office for a short minute, while continuing to meditate on this thread of thought…) 

Once you are engaged in a project, it is really difficult to remember to do this regularly, so setting an alarm might be helpful – you can program this alarm to sound regularly through each day from Monday to Friday. 

You can download a free XNote Timer – once you download the program you can go to the “More” section at the bottom of the program and click “Always On Top” so the application doesn’t get buried on your computer. 

Once the alarm goes off, just get up and take a long deep breath in, and exhale fully, and then move the body in a way that breaks the pattern of hardening that has occurred through sitting.

I often put on some music and dance and jump around freely. Stretch my hamstrings, loosen my shoulders, ease my neck and upper back, open through the front of my torso through some lounges and such…. Options are limitless really!

In an effort to bring some measure of “cool factor” to at-work workouts, Atlantic editor James Hamblin offers up an array of suggestions in this humor-filled video. As he says, while stationary jogging in an elevator may raise some eyebrows, taking the stairs is always an option.

I love these mini interruptions, and I’m very pleased that I’m consciously giving my body a real break from the abuse of constant sitting – and I really love it when I move and feel my joints crack, and circulation curse through the muscles, and even my brain – making me feel instantly refreshed and renewed! 

And on top of this, I know that this very habit of doing intermittent movement will support my body to function smoothly and pain free for decades ahead of me.

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