Prolonged sitting: a real scourge.
These days, we spend most of our time sitting at a desk or in front of a computer or smartphone, sitting in transportation (car, bus, plane), sitting to eat a meal, sitting in front of the TV or movie screen. On average, we spend more than 6 hours a day sitting. We now know that more than 2 hours of prolonged sitting is a risk factor: back pain, obesity, depression, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and even premature death.
And if you think that one hour of exercise at the gym will totally compensate for those 6 hours of immobility, think again.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not opposed to exercise at the gym, far from it. However, the best antidote to a sedentary lifestyle and its attendant ills is walking and getting out of your chair regularly.
How to avoid prolonged sitting
Difficult, you might say, to avoid prolonged sitting. I admit it, but what you need to avoid most of all is sitting still. Thus, you should absolutely avoid sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time. How?
- Find tactics to get up often (glass of water away from you);
- Better yet, find tactics to get up and down stairs regularly (snacks one floor up or down);
- Take advantage of a phone call to get up and walk (it’s easier in the wireless age, especially if you move the phone away from you);
- Replace some of the time spent in front of screens and on social media with an activity, even domestic (wash and put away the dishes, sweep the house).
In other words, incorporate tactics into your daily routine to force yourself to move often, simply. There’s nothing superhuman or athletic about it. But it works better than anything, plus it’s accessible to the vast majority of humans.
My simple solution: golf as a motivator
Golf has saved me from two cancers (see my bio). But there’s more. Golf motivates me to go walking, even in the winter.
Indeed, I know very well that, without my daily walks in the winter, I will develop several musculo-articular aches and pains in the first weeks of the summer golf season.
Yes, but it’s cold in winter, especially if it’s windy, you might say. I admit, walking in the winter may seem daunting at first glance. However, when you think about it, it’s easy to protect yourself from the cold, at least much easier than protecting yourself from the heat in the summer. All you need is a good coat and a pair of boots, preferably with cleats (especially in Canada). Add long, warm underwear, mittens, a scarf and a beanie hat, and you’re done! No cold will stop you.
I’ve been cross-country skiing at -50 Celsius, but I was well dressed and careful not to get too hot (risk of irreversible lung frostbite otherwise). I hate the cold, but I was not cold. It’s not a question of courage, it’s a question of preparation.
And, you know what, walking outside in the sun is a great way to combat seasonal depression due to lack of light in the winter. You’ll kill two birds with one stone: boost your morale and your health! The scourge of prolonged sitting is linked to our increasingly sedentary lifestyle. But with a little planning and preparation, you could be one of the 40% of the population who enjoy winter, despite the cold.