Courtesy CBS This Morning Norah O’Donnell, Gayle King, and Charlie Rose
My biggest challenge in life is to get off my butt and walk to work. On average, people sit too many hours at their desks, in their cars, while eating, socializing… you name it. We have become accustomed to a behavior that is not adding to our life expectancy… instead..it is taking years away.
I write on average, six hours a day. My posture is declining and I can feel it when I stand. I am prone to shoulder and neck pain from trying to support my laptop in all sorts of situations. I retreat to our local coffee house to get a break from the mundane office environment which keeps me stressed and in competition with myself. Writers are the worse offenders when it comes to their health.
I once read an article about Alan Greenspan in which he claimed he penned his memoir in the bathtub.”Greenspan started writing The Age of Turbulence a day after he retired from the Fed in January 2006.
“I was trying to hold the whole book in my head at the same time, and I knew if I took two weeks off it would just spill away and I’d have to pick up again.”
He wrote the 531-page book as he did his speeches at the Fed — in longhand and mainly while sitting in the bathtub, which he does every day since starting the practice after a back injury in the 1960s. He says the invention of a pen that can write in water has made it easier for his assistants to make out the sometimes soggy papers.
But what about soggy brains? Inactivity can lead to what I call low threshold creativity, meaning, your only as good as your last sentence.. which is pretty boring.
Walking is, by nature, low-impact: there is significantly less impact as the foot hits the ground and, consequently, the lungs have a greater opportunity to provide the much-needed oxygen. Therefore, the heart rate does not get as high with walking.
Why Your Health Matters Most
Walk don’t run while searching Google for the facts about your health. Let’s start with the word sedentary. Then add obsessive and compulsive TV binging, sporting events, news, Netflixing, tech toys, Twitter, Facebook… do the math… you’re logging in at a minimum, nearly eight hours a day and you wonder why you keep forgetting your password AT RISK.
My friend Arianna Huffington, employs hundreds of editors that work tirelessly to publish thousands of bloggers who are all sitting at work.
Face the facts and then start walking to extend your life. Experts tell us that prolonged sitting has been linked to heart disease and high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, and people with the most sedentary time are more than twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease than those with the least. Diabetes has also been linked to a sedentary lifestyle.
The pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that carries glucose to cells for energy. But cells in idle muscles don’t respond as readily to insulin, so the pancreas produces more and more, which can lead to diabetes and other diseases. A 2011 study found a decline in insulin response after just one day of prolonged sitting. And because studies have linked sitting to a greater risk for colon, breast and endometrial cancers one theory why is that excess insulin encourages cell growth. Another is that regular movement boosts natural antioxidants that kill cell-damaging — and potentially cancer-causing — free radicals.
I can add more health hazards to why sitting is not good for business or pleasure. Take a look at your posture when you sit. Most of us are slumped over in our chairs, limiting the use of muscles that support us when we stand upright. And what about our hips? Flexible hips keep us balanced but studies have found that decreased hip mobility is a main reason elderly people tend to fall. Add poor circulation in legs and over time blood circulations slows which can cause extra fluid, swollen ankles and varicose veins even dangerous blood clots called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
And it’s not just the elderly. There is a ‘moral panic’ concerning the ‘couch kids’ culture in modern western society. Project STIL (Sedentary Teenagers and Inactive Lifestyles) at Loughborough University is investigating ‘what young people do’ and focuses on active and inactive pursuits chosen in their leisure time.
Dr. David Agus, author of The End of Illness states, “Sitting for five hours a day, even if you go to the gym for an hour [is] the equivalent of a smoking a pack a day.”
I am trying to reboot and change old sedentary behaviors into new life saving ones. It’s not easy as a journalist having to sit and write for hours… but what I have recently discovered is my creativity has increased ten fold while walking and writing on a treadmill desk.
Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of my series on the negative health affects of a sedentary life versus a new creative way to write, edit, and post to increase your lifespan.