With the colder temperatures coming upon us, we tend to go outside less frequently, which leads to more inactivity in front of our televisions and computers! This reminds me that during the Autumn and Winter months, we are more likely to fall back into one of the most unhealthy practices we’ve gotten into as a country in the last half-century … that being a sedentary life-style. The word sedentary comes from the Latin sedentrius or sedere, meaning “to sit.”
So, in the spirit of better health through better habits, I’m going to ask you to get up and read the rest of this article while standing. Just a couple of minutes or so … and, no, I’m not kidding!! Get out of your chair and up off the couch … now, let’s continue!
Want to know my translation for sedentary? Couch potato. Again, not a very idyllic image. Far too many older Americans are getting little to no regular physical activity. Currently, 44% of adults 65-plus are considered “inactive”, meaning they engage in less than ten minutes of moderate or vigorous activity weekly. Ten minutes. Weekly! Literally, the word sedentary couldn’t be more appropriate; we sit way too much. Some doctors and researchers have gone so far as to call sitting the new smoking.
Our current culture is wired for sedentary behavior—or should I say wireless for sedentary behavior, what with all the high-tech gadgets we have. For someone 65-plus, the average time spent daily sitting in front of the TV is about seven hours. The average time spent per day sitting on the Internet is almost two hours. What’s more, TV and computers are magnets for unhealthy snacks. How many times have you brought “just one more bowl” into the TV room or to your computer desk? Add to that the comfort of air-conditioned cars to take us a few blocks here and there, and it’s no wonder our legs are so inactive—remember, your largest muscles are in your legs, so if you want to get your metabolism burning calories, those are the muscles to get in gear.
Just think about how many times over the course of your life you’re going to need to get up and out of a chair; by turning moments of downtime into uptime now, inactivity will take less of a toll on you later. Studies show just a minute on your feet gets your body and metabolism going. Seriously, all the sitting is unhealthy … so, if you like to read, occasionally get up and do so while standing. Or during the commercial break of your television program, do some toe touches and deep-knee bends.
Remember: Every effort you make toward more activity, no matter how slight it may be, adds up to more movement and less sedentary time, which only helps YOU and your muscle and heart health!!