Guest Article: Sitting is the New Smoking
It’s been well known for many years that smoking has huge negative implications for your health, even if you’re otherwise fit and active. New research, however, shows that just sitting down for long stretches of time can have comparable negative health effects. One of the easiest ways to improve your health is to fight the negative effects that sitting too much can have on your metabolism. Whether you are a young professional just starting out or someone gearing up to retire, walking every opportunity you have to do so can make a great improvement in your overall health. If you’re someone who requires professional home care and home health services, you can turn those services into opportunities to improve your health even more.
How Sitting Affects You and Your Health
The human body, at its core, is made to be in motion. Keeping certain muscles immobile, especially certain leg muscles, slows down circulation, which in turn causes the body to use less blood sugar and burn less fat. This effect has huge long-term health implications including increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. New research also indicates that sitting suppresses a gene called LPP1, which prevents clotting and inflammation to keep the cardiovascular system healthy. In short, if you exercise regularly but spend most of your non-exercise time sitting down, you’re undermining the benefits of that exercise.
Get Outta That Chair!
Go for Walks: It’s almost always possible to find a few minutes in your day to go out and walk around. If you are using home care services, ask the caregiver if you can go for a walk together. Those 15 minutes will not only improve your health, but also help you get to know someone who’s visiting your home so often. If you are working at a desk all day, take a break and walk about the building. Make sure to take the stairs and just take a lap around the office. It’s amazing how much better and refreshed you will feel after a break from sitting.
Find Standing Activities: Cooking, cleaning, organizing, and many other activities around the house don’t require you to sit down. Even if you’re in need of homecare services, you can likely find low-stress activities that keep you moving without exerting yourself too much. If you spend a lot of time on the computer, consider investing in an adjustable desk to stand at least part of the time. If you have an adjustable desk, the general rule is to spend 45 minutes sitting with 15 minute intervals of standing. ABC news reported, “When you sit for long periods of time, there is a very little contractile activity going on in the skeletal muscle, and after more than a thousand studies, we believe that small, low level contractions are very important for good health.” Check out the full article here.
Get Up and Stretch: Even a one-minute stretch break from sitting down, at home or at the office, can get your body moving again and help your metabolism. Even if you require professional caregiving services in the home to complete your daily activities, ask if the caregiver can help you do the tasks rather than do them for you so you can get up and move about when you are able. Just ask your care professional to get up and stretch with you periodically during each visit.
Drink More Liquids: Yes, trips to the bathroom are a perfectly legitimate way to keep your body moving. The more liquids you consume, the more often you’ll have to get up. The extra liquids will also help you keep your digestive system moving and improve your metabolism.
Exercise While Seated: For some people the daily commute requires you to sit down whether you like it or not. Fortunately, there are plenty of exercises you can perform while sitting to keep your metabolism moving. Even something as simple as shifting your weight from one side to the other can have health benefits. In some cases, people have been known to carry light weights in their car to work out their arms while they wait patiently in traffic.
Use Reminders: Alarms on your mobile phone or computer can remind you to get up, stretch and exercise. Alternatively, you can go low-tech with sticky notes around your clock or a posted exercise schedule in your office. People receiving professional home care and home health services can also ask their caregivers and health professionals to remind them to exercise.
Walk and Talk: For both in-person and phone conversations, there’s no need to sit down if you’re talking to another person. Get up and walk around, and encourage your conversation partner to do the same. Again, this is a great opportunity to chat with your home care services professional or learn something new about a coworker.
At Homewatch CareGivers, we’re dedicated to helping your loved ones stay healthy. Whether it involves coordinating home health care services for you or offering assistance with daily chores around the house, it’s possible to stay safe and maintain independence when even routine tasks become difficult. Even when it’s as simple as encouraging clients to get up and move around or as complex as working directly with doctors and other health care providers, we do what it takes to take care of people of all ages.
Written By: Alison Johnston is a writer living in the greater Denver area who enjoys writing about overall health and well being.