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Have you heard sitting is the new smoking?
“For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking”
~ Martha Grogan, cardiologist, Mayo Clinic
The scientific community has even dubbed this “sitting disease.” It’s not yet a diagnosis disease in the medical community but could be in the future.
For your health, you have a need for movement!
Just Stand has some great information on sitting disease, but it is rather bleak. This is particularly worrisome…
“The 2010 American Cancer Society Study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology followed 123,216 individuals (69,776 women and 53,440 men) from 1993-2006.
The Alarming results:
Women who were inactive and sat over 6 hours a day were 94% more likely to die during the time period studied than those were physically active and sat less than 3 hours a day.
Men who were inactive and sat over 6 hours daily were 48% more likely to die than their standing counterparts.
Findings were independent of physical activity levels (the negative effects of sitting were just as strong in people who exercised regularly).”
The obvious remedy to sitting disease is standing—while you compute or do any number of activities.
But is standing really the answer? According to Georgetown University School of Nursing— No. Sitting or standing you’re still at risk.
So perhaps it’s not whether you sit or stand, instead it’s the repetitive movement, or lack there of, that is the problem. If we remain in one position too long our bodies rebel.
This past winter I started having cramps in my legs and feet at bedtime. It was terrible. I’d get almost asleep and bolt out of bed in pain. Or wake up in the middle of the night with a cramp.
I thought my diet was lacking something and started to research what I could be missing. I tried several things including upping magnesium and calcium plus drinking lots more water — to the point I was now getting up a couple of times a night to use the bathroom.
The cramps persisted.
My husband came home one day and told me about a radio program he heard discussing the problems people that sit have. One of the problems was leg cramps.
I sit — a lot. Working on my computer for a living tends to lead to me being very sedentary.
Starting that day, I made a point of getting up and moving more. Over the next several days, I took stretching breaks and short walks.
Then, I started using dedicated movement plans from Jen at Healthy Moving. The movement break videos work very well for me and I love being able to pick a short movement break of a couple of minutes, 10 to 15 minutes or a full hour long session depending on my day.
In Jen’s classes, she introduced me to the concept of adding in movement to every day events. Can I stretch my calves while brushing my teeth? Can I pick up something off the floor and get a good stretch at the same time? These little things really can make a big difference.
Today, my night time leg cramps are very rare. When I do get them I think back on my day and whether I had much movement built in.
Every time the answer was no. I was working on a big project or up against a deadline and didn’t stop for these movement breaks. Tsk-tsk.
I have to admit, I never really considered that I have a sedentary lifestyle. After all, our day to day activities around our homestead require quite a bit of movement.
We’re a dry cabin so have to move to bring water in. Once the water is in, it’s not as easy as turning on a faucet to have water, I need to lift a jug.
Our house is unfinished which means things are often not easily accessible. We often have to move one thing to get to another since we don’t have cabinets, closets and such.
We have goats that need tending. And now with summer in full swing, we’ve added a small garden, newly planted trees and chickens.
Even with these things, it wasn’t enough for my body. I’m now continually looking for ways to add extra movement into my life. While I love the idea of the efficiency of as few movements as possible, my body is doing better by not doing things in as few movements as possible.
Designing Our Home for Movement
Even though I am learning about needing extra movement I still look toward the common way of things. We’re designing our kitchen (yes, we’ve been living in our house for almost a year and a half and don’t yet have a real kitchen) and I’ve been thinking of adding things to make it easier to have my often used items at my finger tips.
I love those little appliance garages and have saved several to my Pinterest board. As our design progressed it became obvious that I needed the counter space more than I needed the cute little garage. I was feeling a little bummed.
In this post, she shares how she worked with a friend who shared movement techniques to incorporate healing. And that friend worked with an architect to increase range of motion and movement.
Another AHA moment!
Could my lack of space help with my movement needs?
Instead of lamenting my small space and missing appliance garage could I embrace it as a way to better health?
Yes! Megan is doing that in her home (be sure to check out the article if you haven’t yet where Megan shares how her family of 5 is living and thriving in a Tiny Home) and so can we.
I’m now very excited about our new kitchen design. We’re in the process of construction now. I’ll share in future posts how we are incorporating items to facilitate movement. And how we’ve decided to look not just at our kitchen for this but other areas of our home.
I’m not the only one in my family who needs movement. My husband and little boy also need to be moving. In fact, children age 6 and up should have at least an hour of physical activity each day (source). I’ll be honest, my little guy would rather be on his computer or playing LEGOS than moving. So we make a concentrated effort to add movement to his day also. This is sometimes in one block of time but more often in short movement breaks like mine. He often joins me for a short walk, stretching or doing chores.
Even my husband has recently found himself sitting more too. He’s a bus driver 20 hours per week with the other 20 spent doing more movement-rich work. That combined with a bit of middle-aged spread has him looking to jogging and strength training. He’s ran two 5Ks this summer and is training to beat his time next year.
We also do fun things as a family. Evening walks, hikes, and looking for ways to “play” together. We’re even planning for an obstacle-type course in the yard. Our little guy is pretty sure the obstacle course will be his gateway to being a free-runner. I’ve seen some of those free-running videos and NO is my thought on that. 😉 A less dangerous obstacle course will definitely keep things fun.
Do you think about how much you move?
Do you try to achieve a movement quota each day?
Millie Copper (Homespun Oasis) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking amazon.com.