Thanks to some of the comforts and conveniences of modern life, a bug is going around. Scientists are calling it “sitting disease,” and you may be at risk.
Technically speaking, this affliction is not really a disease, but rather a phrase coined by the medical community to address our modern lifestyles and the associated dangers of sitting. The message coming loud and clear from many in the medical community is that, whether it’s in our cars, at our desks, or in front of the TV, people these days simply sit too much —and it can potentially have far-reaching and adverse effects on our health down the line.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys studied the daily habits of Americans and declared that the average amount we sit drastically lowers life expectancy. The dangers of sitting and an overly sedentary lifestyle include increased risk for heart disease, Type II diabetes, and even certain cancers.
Additionally, sitting too much over time initially causes smaller problems, like decreased flexibility and mobility, which can lead to much larger issues as we age. Particularly relevant to the older adult population is the fact that decreased hip flexibility, a problem associated with sitting disease, is one of the most common factors in falls in the elderly. Add this to back pain, weak bones and muscles, and it’s clear that seniors—and people of all ages— have plenty of reasons to get up and get moving.
Our advice: even if something requires long bouts of sitting, find ways to break up these sedentary periods. Try standing occasionally while watching TV or reading something at your desk, and set reminders at regular intervals to remember to get up and take a stroll. On top of these simple tips, talk to your doctor about the types of exercise that are appropriate for you and to find out whether or not you’re including enough activity into your days.