The average American sits nearly eight hours a day, which in no way, shape, or form is good for your overall health.
You may be thinking, “I’m at my desk, I’m working, I’m on the phone, it’s no big deal,” but the reality is sitting on your tuchas all day could lead to what health experts call “Sitting Disease.”
The sedentary habit has been linked to several health ailments, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Ivan Hernandez, doctor of physical therapy and fitness enthusiast, joined Roland Martin on NewsOne Now to discuss “Sitting Disease,” who is being impacted by it, and how a sedentary lifestyle may be shaving years off your life.
Hernandez said the hours many of us spend sitting are “adding up at the end of the day.” He continued, “Sitting makes us bigger and sicker, and it’s been associated with a number of diseases.”
The dangers of sitting include cardiovascular disease, increased probability of having a stroke, and cancer. Dr. Hernandez said, “We need to get up and start moving much more.”
Hernandez went so far as to equate the impact of sitting as being as detrimental to the human body as smoking, where sitting for five and a half hours can equal smoking over a pack of cigarettes. Dr. Hernandez said, “Sitting is the new smoking.”
The physical therapist told Martin cutting sitting time in half increases an individual’s life by two years. “There is a large body of evidence that [has] shown how sitting actually decreases our life expectancy,” said Hernandez.
Dr. Hernandez added, “If you were to cut your [sitting] hours under two, you would reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular disease by 80 percent.”
If your job requires you to sit down for extended periods of time, Hernandez suggested you get up every twenty to thirty minutes to “stand up, walk around, go to the bathroom, get some water, speak with a colleague if you need to, instead of writing an email or sending out a text.”
“Our body goes into storage mode when we sit down,” said Hernandez. He added, “A number of things happen when we stop metabolizing sugar and fat — inflammation ensues.”
Hernandez said, “We need to get up, we need to start circulating blood, because when blood becomes stagnant … that’s when bad things happen.”
For those of us who are tied to our desks, Dr. Hernandez suggested using a phone headset that would allow you walk around, as well as consider getting a standing desk or a convertible desk. He said there is an increase in “mental acuity when you are standing verses sitting, productivity actually increases as well when you compare that to sitting.”
If you are stuck in meetings all day, Dr. Hernandez suggested conducting the meeting on the go with a walking conference. During this week’s edition of Fit!Live!Win!, Hernandez also offered a series of exercises to offset the impact of excessive sitting, including squatting exercises, pulling exercises, and hinging exercises.
Hernandez is currently conducting a campaign on Facebook titled Health is Wealth. Martin suggested Dr. Hernandez rename his campaign “Move your butt” because our hindquarters are stuck in chairs and the lack of movement is causing us to deteriorate in more ways than one.
Watch Roland Martin and Dr. Ivan Hernandez discuss the dangerous impact of “Sitting Disease” in the video clip above.
Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes.