Get Up, Stand Up
Did you know that the average adult spends 50 to 70 percent of their time sitting? Two studies have quantified the health detriment caused by excessive time parked on your butt. Adults with the highest rates of sedentary behavior have a 112 percent increase in their risk for developing diabetes, a 147 percent increase in their risk for developing cardiovascular disease, and a 49 percent greater risk for premature death. Every hour spent sitting after the age of 25 reduces life expectancy by about 20 minutes. By comparison, every cigarette smoked reduces life expectancy by about 11 minutes.
When I can’t move, I can’t think. I rarely exercise for the hell of it, but I walk pretty much everywhere I go–equally motivated by my love of movement and my lack of bus fare. If I sit still for too long I get antsy and my neural passageways turn to sludge. My mind won’t work until my body starts moving again. Case in point: I had to leave the apartment and walk around Capitol Hill for a while before coming home to work on this post some more. (Exercise also has a very positive correlation with concentration.)
But wait! There’s more! Sedentary sitting is so bad for you that exercise does not counteract its effects! A person who regularly exercises and watches six hours of television daily has about the same mortality risk as a person who neither watches tv nor exercises! What’s a writer/blogger/receptionist/computer tech/all those other butt-sitting professions to do?!
Maybe I’ll be a waitress for life, with this blog on the side. Waiting tables is active, it’s social, the money is good. I love working in restaurants because it allows me to be on my feet all day, bopping around, chatting with people. And back when I was still working in Madrona, I loved my two mile walk to work each day.
The work I went to school for–writing, editing, research–involves a lot of sitting on my butt computer work. At my first and so far only day working inside the internship office, I was embarrassingly energetic and kept bouncing up from my desk to get more tea, or go to the bathroom, or take a quick peek outside.
In high school, I used to ask to go to the bathroom and then just roam the halls. In college, a lot of fights could have been avoided if I had just gone to the gym and directed my energy toward exercise instead of negativity. Since I’m getting to know myself better, I can identify a specific anxious feeling–like I’m a tightly coiled spring on the precipice of explosion–that means I need to get out and move.
I would love to find an active, high-energy career that also makes use of my B.A. in Journalism. I did type part of a post in my cell phone notepad one night while walking to trivia in Belltown and was amazed I had never tried it before (though I frequently text while aimlessly wandering across busy streets). It was so fun to be moving and writing at the same time! Maybe smart phones will save us all. We can do all of our reading and writing and blog posting on foot.
Other options for a long and active life: Get a standing desk. Sit on an exercise ball. Take frequent breaks to walk around your office (or apartment, or coffee shop). Only watch tv on the treadmill. Do your best, try to make your lifestyle more active, and remember–the average adult spends more than half of their time sitting. It’s not just you! This is a fault of our society, but it’s up to us to make our individual lives better. Put spikes on the couch if you have to, but Get Up! Stand Up! Stand up for your life!