Ok so we’ve been told that sitting is more dangerous to our health than smoking, so we have adjusted our habits. Many people have incorporated standing desks into their daily work routine. We set our timers and get up at least every 30-45 minutes and intentionally move around for about 5 or 10 minutes. All these are good choices.
I read about a study done on the Hadza people who are Tanzanian hunter-gatherers. While their lifestyle practices in general couldn’t be more different from ours, there are some similarities. Even though their activity levels are triple what ours are, their sedentary time is about the same. They average 9 or 10 sedentary hours, yet they have a much lower rate of chronic disease. So what might be causing that difference?
The researchers found that kneeling or squatting instead of sitting seems to be the answer. When in a squatting or kneeling position more muscle is engaged. You are not fully resting and that small amount of muscle activity between higher activity level and “resting” positions is more powerful than realized before.
According to researcher David Raichlen, Ph.D.: “Even though there were long periods of inactivity, the Hadza are often resting in postures that require their muscles to maintain light levels of activity. Being a couch potato—or even sitting in an office chair—requires less muscle activity. Since light levels of muscle activity require fuel, which generally means burning fats, then squatting and kneeling postures may not be as harmful as sitting in chairs.”
So his recommendation is to try to spend more time in postures that at least require some low-level muscle activity rather than just melting into the couch. Kneeling and squatting may not be an option if you have knee problems, but there are other ways. I mentioned getting up every 30-45 minutes and intentionally stretching and moving and that is still a great option. You can also sit on an exercise ball or a balance disc which I recommend in Today is Still the Day. Those are simple ways to keep your muscles engaged even when sitting at the computer.
How do you mitigate the negative effects of sitting, which we all do daily?
Make gradual changes. Boost health, vitality and energy. Become your best YOU.
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Boy am I in trouble. My favorite position, when not out doing chores around the ranch, is laid back in my recliner with my feet up. 🙂 I’d better rethink that.
J.D. after all the work you do on the ranch, there is nothing wrong with getting in your recliner and putting your feet up! You earned that. Please don’t ever take these things I share as condemnation or absolute rules. They are meant for us to think about what we do and how we might improve. My recliner is my place of choice after a busy day and mine is nowhere near as physically taxing as yours my friend!!
Whew, what a challenge and thanks. Leann and I watch our drop on those nasty body mass charts. As both of us are in our late 60’s and the couch calls to us, we call back and just say NO. Our new diet has us at 37 pounds less together with that much to go. What a blessing to not carry that weight around. Very much like our Christian walk, to get rid of the weight of sin on a daily basis so we can walk free with Christ and amen.
Congratulations on losing 37 lbs. between you!! That is awesome. And yes, that comparison is very much like our Christian walk – the less baggage we have to carry around, the easier the journey!
Super interesting. I need to get better at this. There were similar accounts in the blue zones books. I wonder if there could be any side effects to the knees from these positions?
That’s a good question, Holly. I wonder about that too.
I could see it hurting our weak American bodies. I think it’s something I might try, but definitely ease into. Spending a day in the garden on my knees can mess me up because I’m lazy with my form and don’t have strength in the right places. Always room for improvement!
For sure Holly. I find squatting or bending for any length of time in my garden – I feel it in my lower back. But I agree, this is something to do gradually for sure!