Sitting down for a good portion of the day can be crippling for a number of reasons. If you spend hours on your bum, you can develop lower back pain, bad eating habits, and you can even age yourself by eight years. This is why we always encourage people to get up and move, no matter what movement or exercise you choose.
Recent studies indicate that too much sitting can have long-lasting damage on your body. Chronic conditions like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer can be the result of sitting down all day. This is because being sedentary can add years to your life at a cellular level, i.e. you will be more prone to developing certain illnesses because your cells aren’t as healthy.
A study with 1,500 elderly women found that those who sat for long periods of time were eight years older on a biological, not chronological, level. This University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine study saw that these women, aged 64-95, who had minimal physical activity, had shorter telomeres than the women who exercised for 30 minutes a day.
A telomere is the end of a DNA strand that helps measure biological aging. Telomeres get shorter and shorter until cells can no longer divide, thus causing the cells to die. The women who sat for upwards of 10 hours a day had telomeres that indicated about eight additional years of aging. For your knowledge, every cigarette smoked decreases one’s life expectancy by 11 minutes. If you sit for 10 hours a day, sitting can be worse than smoking.
From this study, researchers determined that exercise has anti-aging effects on the body. This is why some offices are getting standing desks. People also swap out office chairs for inflatable exercise balls so they can continually move throughout the day. If bouncing on an exercise ball or standing up to work doesn’t appeal to you, try doing 20 squats every hour while you’re at work. Make an effort to go outside and walk for 10 minutes on your lunch break too!
Movement is the key to keeping your cells healthy. If you are older and are chair-bound, try seated exercises or aqua aerobics. If you like competing with yourself, get a fitness tracker to meet daily step goals. Just don’t attach this tracker to your pet to increase your count!