ergonomics · health

Most bodies are built to move!

If you’re like me you’re probably ready to scream if you see another “sitting is bad for you” article.

I think that even though I know my frustration doesn’t make the news any less true. I think that even though I’m currently drafting a chapter of our book on everyday exercise which talks a lot about the dangers of sedentary living. Study after study after study shows that sitting is bad for most people no matter how much we exercise. See Sit yourself down? : The latest news about sitting.  My most recent post on this theme The Chair Conspiracy  talks about the possibility of active sitting–like cross legged sitting or squatting–and shifts the focus from sitting to the ways in which we sit.

I also think that we need to think about movement in as diverse a way as possible, recognizing that standing and walking aren’t options for everyone. See my recent post on crawling and mainstream discomfort with alternative ways of moving.

I like this TED talk though. I like it better than this video, the damage sitting does to your body explained in 60 seconds.

Along with the usual suspects of weight gain and back pain, the animation explains how, as soon as you sit down, the enzymes that break down fat drop by 90 percent, and your insulin effectiveness and good cholesterol levels drops. Sitting also makes blood clots more likely to form in your brain, and people with desk jobs are twice as likely to suffer from heart disease than those with active jobs.

We could go on, but the take-home message here is pretty simple – maybe it’s time to stand up, watch the video and then get outside and go for a walk. Seriously.

What’s the difference? Why is the TED talk better? It explains how most human bodies function best with almost constant movement.  Although there’s range of what bodies can and can’t do, the typical human body is not built to keep still.

10 thoughts on “Most bodies are built to move!

  1. I’m to the point of letting out audible groans every time I see another article about how bad sitting is, not because I disagree, but because, well…? We don’t live in societies that promote a better way to live and move; telling me to stand at my desk all day instead of sitting, or trying to get up and move around every hour are fine, but isn’t it really that I’m at my desk for 8-9 hours a day that’s the real problem? All these articles seem to suggest that sitting all day is a choice, and this couldn’t be farther from the truth, or at least for a lot of us. Besides as you point out, some people are forced to sit all day due to other physical needs. Also, I feel like the information we’re presented with is confusing and becomes a weird numbers game. For example, a recent article claimed that sitting all day could reduce my lifespan by 2 years, but if I’m not a smoker and increase my consumption of Omega 3’s, does that mean I gain back those 2 years plus some?

    Having said all that, I do hate sitting and do feel depressed when I can’t move. I keep toys around my desk area to help me move throughout the day, like a balancing board, and when I’m not actively doing something at my computer I’m trying to get in the habit of standing up – phone calls, thinking, brainstorming, all on my feet. Unfortunately my office is in a less than ideal space for walking. We’re on a busy road with no sidewalks. But, I could do a few laps around the parking lot every now and again. It’s just a weird battle to have to fight! I used to live close enough to work to commute my bike, and sorely miss those days.

    1. You’re right that lots of the questions are structural and systemic, not individual. We need to change how many hours we work and what workplaces look like. My partner’s workplace is much better than the university. They have standing meetings, sit and stand desks, lots of different places to work. What we can do are the small things, get up and walk every hour, run errands in person rather than sending email, etc…and not flop down in front of Netflix at the end of a hard day.

  2. Wow. What a great video! I’m always sitting when I’m reading blogs and other stuff in the internet. But not this time, actually I was standing up when I saw your entrance…! Hahahaha

  3. I think there’s a happy medium here, and it probably involves a big dose of checking our you-know-what.

    I blogged about this a while ago, and I think of it every time I see a sitting panic post:

    It’s also easy to forget there are plenty of people out there doing backbreaking labor every day. Those of us with desk jobs can mind our health while still being sensitive.

    My older family members who’ve spent their lives doing physical labor aren’t thinking about how they can stand more– they’re reaching for the ibuprofen and counting the days to retirement.

    1. Right. That’s the clash between me and my family. My parents were bakers, very physically demanding work, and my brother is a mechanic. I’m the one with the desk job.

  4. These “OMG sitting will KILL YOU” pieces are frustrating as a fat disabled person who struggles to find joyful physical activities that don’t cause pain or other issues. The video you posted is one of the better things I’ve seen since it focused more on movement instead of sitting vs standing, but this discourse can be really damaging for folks that don’t have options beyond sitting.

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