I wake up. I get ready for work. On some days, I practice yoga in the morning, but not daily. I sit at the desk and do work, sometimes 8 straights hours without a proper break. I order lunch from my computer without getting up, and I eat at my desk while browsing through The Daily Show With Trevor Noah or The Oxford Union. I know that prolonged periods of sitting will increase the likelihood of the so-called ‘sitting disease’. While at the same time, I feel much more comfortable to sit in my chair all-day long, living a sedentary lifestyle.
It’s a half an hour drive back home. I spend the rest of my evening catching up on my favorite series or simply reading old classics on my Kindle until I fall off to sleep. Not so long ago I realized I’m averse to hardcore cardio of any kind. Obviously, when I do yoga my pulse doesn’t get up, but it had me wondering if there’s more I could do to get my breath up.
Now, I want to be one of those old spry ones and not the feeble kind whose health declines as they grow old. But at the same time, it’s hard for me to imagine myself doing any kind of fitness activity because I spend 40-50 hours in the office.
I recently discovered that my sedentary lifestyle could be the reason why I’m always so tired, stressed and the health problems galore. Frankly, I blame myself, because I’ve never really attempted to get a little bit of more activity in my day.
In the last twelve months, there has been an unprecedented increase in the amount of inactive Americans, according to the Physical Activity Council’s 2015 Participation Report.
"The high rate of inactivity is fundamentally alarming," said Tom Cove, PAC Chairman and the president and CEO of the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), according to the NY Daily News. "While we can look at this number in a negative light, I would like to use it as a wake-up call to not only our industry but the rest of society."
Honestly, sedentary workers like myself are never going to get in a state where we’re able to exhaust our muscles in a beneficial way and still be able to be productive at work. You and me are among the 86% of Americans workers who sit at our job all day long. The sedentary lifestyle could impact our health in the long run.
Short-term and Long-term Risks of a Sedentary Lifestyle
A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The scientific community has coined the phrase ‘sitting disease’, which refers to the effect long-term sitting has on metabolism.
Sitting curves your spine as you slouch, thereby putting strain on your spinal cord, and preventing your lungs from getting enough space to fully expand. When your lungs don’t get enough space to fully expand, you have less oxygen being distributed throughout your body. Less oxygen in your brain ultimately leads to lost concentration. Thus, when you’re sitting you’re focusing less than you would have if you were moving around.
Research suggests that even 30 minutes of cardio every day may undo the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle. Albeit, it’s not like we can quit out desk job in favor of health, now can we? Here’s one simple workout for the cubicle-bound worker.
Taking the Stairs
Stair climbing is also associated with improved mental health. Such physical activities cause our bodies to release endorphins – the central nervous system’s ‘feel good’chemicals. Moreover, it’s a powerful form of walking – it requires you to pull your body weight against gravity. It can have a significant positive impact on your health over time –
- Reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity and 2 types of diabetes
- Strong musculoskeletal system
- It aids sleep and fights stress
There are plenty of other benefits –
- One does not require any special skills, or sporting prowess.
- One can start with just a few flights and build up over time.
- One doesn’t need to wear a tracksuit.
- It doesn’t cost anything.
Prevent from relying on the elevator when time is tight or because you don’t want to climb the stairs. Stair climbing also exercises our bones and muscles, improving bone density and muscle tone. This is especially important for women in sedentary office jobs, as they are twice more likely to develop osteoporosis.
Climbing a single set of stairs is not going to make you fit overnight. Although, you’ll feel much stronger within a week and over a prolonged period of time. Accelerate over time, take two at a time after a few weeks. Be proactive about your health, both at home and at the office.