One hour is equal to 4% of your day. Ok fine, if you want to get specific it’s actually 4.166666% of your day... but who’s counting? What you need to know is that most people struggle to even get a solid 30 minutes of exercise in a day (that’s only 2% of your total daily hours people!) In comparison to your work life -- your investment on your selfcare, mental health, and physical wellbeing is microscopic.
Studies show that a sedentary lifestyle can slash your life expectancy by almost 7 years... That statement alone makes you sit up a little straighter and start thinking twice about heading to the couch after you get off work huh?
Scientists and journalists are starting to argue that sitting down is in fact the new “smoking”. The question is, can you repair the long-term damage by starting to exercise now? Few smokers are lucky enough to greet older age without some sort of suffering – lung disease, cancers, high blood pressure, stroke, emphysema etc. Smoking increases your risk of dying each year by 180% versus sitting increases your risk by 25% (that’s still impactful).
However, the more hours you sit every day (working, commuting, eating, unwinding in front of a flickering screen, tapping and scrolling) the more harm you do to your body. Recent studies report sluggishness, lack of concentration, fatigue, poor circulation, and accelerated artery buildup of fats – just to name a few (the list is lengthy).
Did you know that sitting increases pressure on your spine by 85%? Ouch.
If you’re wondering what the timeline is before you see and feel the above issues, lets break it down here:
Immediate: Fluid pools in your feet causing swelling and leg cramps.
10 Minutes: Chest and torso tighten to help support increased spinal pressure which restricts your lung capacity and impacts your ability to oxygenate your body.
10 Hours: This is the breaking point for altering your heart health and increasing risk of heart muscle damage.
1 Day: Risk of Type 2 Diabetes comes into play because sugar lingers in your bloodstream longer than normal (this is why long road trips require you to think more consciously about what you’re consuming. Skip the gas station soda and snacks.)
2 Weeks: Increased risk of heart attack joins the list due to fats clogging up arteries.
Thinking long-term, if you surpass 2 weeks of predominantly “couch potato” lifestyle living – both your bones and muscles will start to weaken. Back pain, neck, and shoulder tension will be much more noticeable due to extra strain on your spine. Weight gain will be likely because your metabolic rate will hit a low point.
The best thing you can do every hour is get up for 5 minutes and walk around, be mindful of what you’re eating, and schedule some movement daily. Your future self will thank you.