The Sitting Plague

This TOJ has been trying to avoid sitting like the plague - because sitting is one. I'm working on a book, which requires lots of research, and, if I'm not careful, too much sitting. So I've been standing up (as I am writing this blog) as much as possible.

Now there's another notable study, this one from the University of Leicester, showing that sitting too long leads to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. What's especially concerning is that the researchers believe exercise, in the sense that a TOJ uses the word to describe that half hour to hour per day that s/he sweats, elevates the pulse, and breaths hard by some challenging physical activity, does NOT fully offset the negative impacts of sitting on your butt too long.

Sedentary life, aka sitting on your butt, was unheard of until the last century. In the old days, only a few aristocrats escaped physical activity by having the servants to the hard work.   It’s as if our big brains cleverly figured out technology to minimize most of these activities so we could realize the highest aspirations of mankind – to sit more. Nowadays, most of us, rich or poor, live like kings (if you can call it that) and sit all day long in front of computers, eating, riding in cars, eating, playing video games, eating, watching the tube, eating. In fact, white collar jobs, where you sit all day laong, are have been elevated to such a high level of social status  that we encourage our children to go to college to get a job where they can sit, too.
Uunfortunately, we have genes inherited from millions of years of evolution, that expects our bodies to be active most hours of the day, and they do not function correctly if we’re not.

From Move Yourself by Tedd Mitchell, MD, Tim Church, MD, and Martin Zucker: “Twice as many people die from sedentary living than from viruses and bacteria, and more die from inactivity than from firearms, illicit use of drugs, sexually transmitted diseases, and automobile accidents combined.”           

Recognizing the economic and social devastation being wrought by sitting and inactivity (maybe as much as 15% of the entire health care budget!), there’s a growing new field in physiology called “inactivity studies.” Until recently, the focus for physiologists was on TOJ stuff, like physical exercise and athletic performance, in an effort to determine how exercise affects the heart, muscle growth, and metabolism. 
The problem is that prolonged periods of sitting causes a drop in the enzyme lipoprotein lipase, whose job it is to remove fat (triglycerides) from the blood. Then HDL (so called good cholesterol) levels then fall and cardiovascular risk rises. Further, electrical activity in the muscles shuts down and calorie burning drops.
Not only do your arteries clog, but your brain suffers as well. Sitting causes a drop in BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which impairs learning and memory, making a dumb TOJ even dumber.
The solution is to move. Limit TV to no more than 3 hours per day. Get out of your desk chair every half hour to fire your muscles. Do some squats or go outside and jump around. If you're stuck in a chair at work, fidget, squirm, consciously contract your muscles by pushing your hands, knees, and ankles together in an isometric contraction. It only take a few minutes of this throughout the day to fire your muscle neurons.
By moving more, you accomplish two good things: First, you'll save on medical bills, and second, you'll do your part to reverse the decline of Western civilization. Who wants to be Rome 2.0? 

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