There has been a recent spate of articles in the media about how “sitting is the new smoking”. (freshjuice.ca, news.discovery.com, theglobeandmail.com. There are more articles. You can Google the topic if you want to read them all.)
Generations before us, the majority of people used their bodies to make a living, get around, survive, etc. Nowadays, most of us just use our minds. Our bodies aren’t as active as they once were. So we have to fit in a daily visit to the gym to get the exercise we once got just by going about our daily lives.
My kids recently watched the movie WALL-E. My daughter was fascinated by all the people in chairs. She has asked me a dozen times or more to explain to her why all the people in the movie are fat and why they can’t walk.
The movie is a few years old (2008), but what it touches on is so pertinent to the current media on how sitting is bad and standing and walking are good that I took the opportunity to explain it in those terms to my daughter.
If we sit as much as we have become accustomed to sitting (at work, at home, in the car, etc.), we will end up like the people in WALL-E.
I have a desk job. I work about 1/2 an hour by car from where I live. I’m at my computer in my home office several hours a day. Then I’m in my car commuting to work in traffic which doubles my time spent sitting (compared to driving into the office outside of rush hour). Then I sit at my desk in the office for several hours and drive home again in traffic.
There is little I can do about the time I spend sitting in my car. I could take transit, but that would increase my travel time to two hours one way, and I’m already taking enough time away from my kids’ by having a job in the first place.
But at home and at the office, this is what I do:
I drink a lot of water.
This helps with the standing and walking in two ways.
- I have to get up every 20 mins or so to refill my glass.
- I have to go to the bathroom more frequently, so I’m leaving my desk to visit the little girls’ room.
I also set a reminder on my calendar that pops up on my computer screen every 15 minutes reminding me to take a standing/walking break.
The other day, my daughter and I were sitting (← a new bad word) at the kitchen table making bead necklaces. Well, I was sitting. My daughter doesn’t sit in the traditional sense of the word. She balances on her chair on one foot. She crouches on her chair. She kneels. She changes positions about eight times per minute.
As we worked on our necklaces, she asked me again why the people in WALL-E were fat and why they were always sitting. I explained it to her again about how sitting isn’t good for you, and that if you sit all the time, you’ll end up with a fat bum. And if you don’t get up and move around, you’ll lose your muscles and you won’t be able to stand anymore. And that’s why the people in the movie are fat and sitting down. She got quiet as she threaded more beads onto the string. Then she looked at me, smiled and said, “Mommy, you should kneel on your knees so your bum doesn’t get fat.”
Good advice from a 5-year-old. I can take it. I stood up immediately and continued to make my necklace while standing. Who says you have to sit to do crafts anyway?