Sitting for six

After my string of night shifts, I simply wanted to sleep and veg out all day.  So that’s what I did.  I didn’t leave the apartment.  I didn’t even change out of my pajamas. 

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Normally I feel at least a little bit of pressure to work out, especially since I’m supposedly “training” for a triathlon.  But I didn’t.  It’s rare that I don’t have feelings of guilt for being a sloth – which is something I’m always working on.  I am a firm believer that guilt is a pointless emotion.  Being healthy means being balanced and flexible.  That includes fitness.  Not working out one day won’t kill me.  I still have to actively say that to myself to make sure I’m being practical (and not a perfectionist).  But I also don’t want one day off to turn into a week.  It’s easy for me to rationalize reasons why I “deserve” a day off.  So I am constantly working on making sure there’s a true balance in my life – cutting myself slack when I need to, but still pushing myself to my fullest potential. 

It was during my third hour of Sex and the City that I read a news story that made me cringe. 

Sitting for 4-6 hours a day means you have an 80% higher risk of death. 

Disregarding it’s bizarre phrasing, the study’s conclusion really creeped me out!  Here I am, on my days off, sitting at my computer for hours on end.  Often more than 6 hours.

The negative effects of sitting:

  • weight gain –> obesity –> increased risk of heart disease & cancer
  • spine compression
  • circulatory trouble (plaque in blood vessels)
  • slowed metabolism

Maybe blogging (or reading others’ blogs) isn’t so healthy.  I mean, 80% is no small amount. 

The study also said that even 1-2 hours of exercise doesn’t counteract the effects of prolonged sitting.  So unless you’re reading blogs on your iPhone while walking to a gym, you’re not doing yourself any favors. 

How about I conduct a study about the positive effects of sitting?  Here’s what I’m thinking off the top of my head:

  • better recipe ideas
  • less laundry (I’m mentally subtracting my dirty gym clothes in this scenario)

Ok, that’s all I can think of.  Feel free to chime in!?! 

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I had two bowls of oatmeal, identical in composition, for breakfast (which was around 1 pm once I woke back up).  Whole rolled oats, cinnamon, raisins, apples, coconut peanut butter AND regular peanut butter. 

I snacked over the course of the afternoon, but took no photos (how interesting are apples, hummus, and nuts really?). 

Now that I think about it, I was actually fairly productive for being a sloth because I finished my book and swept, mopped, and scrubbed down the kitchen and bathroom. 

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My dinner was kinda a smorgasbord of stuff…roasted squash, quinoa, veggie leftovers, and seitan…on a bed of lettuce.   

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And since I ate so early (6ish), I had lots of time for dessert.

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I annihilated my bag of carob chips

By 9 pm I was delirious and Kyle was enjoying my nonsense almost as much as he enjoys me showing his love notes on the blog.  [Read: not at all]  I went to bed early and fell asleep the second my head hit the pillow. 

How many hours a day do you think you sit?  Consecutively or broken up with activity?

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29 thoughts on “Sitting for six

  1. Jen @ Light Enough to Travel

    I saw that study too, and while it sounds scary, keep in mind the numbers don’t really have any context. 80% chance of dying when? Sooner, I guess, but sooner than when? Definitely staying on one’s feet more often is the way to go, but don’t let the numbers throw you into panic. :)

    I know I sit a lot more than I should… I find my neck and back don’t bother me nearly as much when I spend my day up and active. Anne from fANNEtasticfood does all her blogging standing up at her breakfast bar, and I think it’s something I’m going to have to do soon as well.

    Reply
    1. Elise Post author

      i thought the way it was phrased was hilarious. i mean, what the eff kind of conclusion is that? 80% risk of dying sounds so silly because everyone will die…and anyway, im thinking the other aspects of my life will compensate for my minimally increased risk from sitting (like, not smoking, eating well, exercising regularly, etc.).

      Reply
  2. Sarah

    I agree with the above. The use of stats like that are generally misleading. They have to tell you what your current risk of dying is, and how sitting changes it (and, as Jen said, dying when?). Not just the percentage, because if you have a 1 in a billion chance of dying, and it increases your risk by 80%, then the risk is still low. There’s a great chapter on this stuff in the book Bad Science that I highly recommend!

    I also hate these studies because they make me feel hopeless. I mean, what are people who have desk jobs or do research (non-lab research, obviously) supposed to do? How could a professor or a secretary not sit for at least 4 hours a day? How would I get any research or writing done? They come out with a study like this every year or two, it seems. I just wonder if they want people like me, who dedicate a lot of time to working out, but also work at a desk, to just throw up our hands and cry ‘uncle’. I guess I shouldn’t even try! I agree sitting is bad for you, but I also don’t see how all of us can sit for less than 4 hours a day. It’s not just Internet time. Who would write us books? Who would do a big portion of our research? Who would do our accounting? The questions could go on and on, but you get the picture!

    Reply
    1. Elise Post author

      i wonder if the people who researched this study felt bad as they were sitting around day after day after day researching about the effects of sitting around all day…haha. i agree though. every study should be taken with a grain of salt. and if we are moderately active then i think we are ok. still interesting to consider though…

      Reply
  3. Jin

    Even if the research is true, we can’t just eliminate the fact of life.. Work is work and some people are bound to sit on a chair for hours on end!

    I try to stand up when I’m reading blogs (plop up the laptop on to a high table or stacks of books) and I get up every 20~30 min while studying to stretch.

    Working as a psw means a lot of time on my feet and I love it. I rather feel physically tired at the end of the day than not.

    I think what we really need to embrace is how to sit properly. Straight spine, straight neck, relaxed shoulders. Not only does good posture help with straining, it helps with less belly fat too!
    Oh and get up every now and then to stretch and walk around the office/home :)

    Reply
  4. Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles

    I’m willing to bet the hours of nursing counteract a day of being a sloth!! I wouldn’t worry too much. I probably sit for about 65% of my day, maybe 75%. I wish it were less but sometimes my job requires it. I’m up and down a lot, but definitely more sitting than standing.

    I counteract sloth-day guilt by having a planned rest day every week, but I suppose that’s easier when your schedule’s as regular as mine. But I’m glad you were okay with it!

    Reply
  5. Abby

    Sounds like we had a very similar day. My workout consisted of walking into the mall and handing the lady at Gap my debit card. lol. Today I have probably sat for a good amount of time as well. Hopefully tomorrow I will have some motivation to get up and move.

    Reply
  6. julie

    haha a day of vegetation is sometimes just what the doctor ordered. i TRIED to do that yesterday until everyone in my family needed a ride everywhere. so on my day off i was a free cab driver

    Reply
  7. Sara

    I think that article was probably directed more towards sedentary people, rather than healthy active people. I’ve had days where I sit more than I exercise or walk around, but I’m only human and that’s what human’s do.
    Time you enjoy wasting isn’t wasted time!

    Reply
  8. lo

    i usually take studies with a grain of salt because if I didn’t I would be scared of everything hahaha. I think sitting ALL the time is probs not a good thing, but an hour or two in front of the tv or comp is a necessary in life! I work at a restaurant so after an 8-12 hour shift, all I need is a comfy chair :)

    xoxo
    Lo

    Reply
  9. Clare @ Fitting It All In

    It drives me CRAZY that I sit all day at work, even if I do exercise before hand! I asked my boss if we could get standing desks and he thought i was insane.
    I’m so glad my next job will keep me on my feet!

    Reply
  10. Amy

    Would you be able to link the article? I would be interested in reading it. I agree with those that said the statistics seem disheartening, especially since my job requires that I sit at my desk for 8 hours per day. However, I try to take these studies with a grain of salt , since you can pretty much use (or withhold) any data to support a claim.

    Reply
    1. Elise Post author

      i agree. ill try and find the link. i saw it on diane sawyer first.

      its probably sponsored by red bull or something, haha. (kidding)

      Reply
  11. Katie

    Sitting for up to 6 hours a day means your couch is nice and broken in…so it’s more comfortable, for…uh, all that sitting. Catch-22.

    Also, don’t feel guilty. Besides being a pointless emotion – you have a profession where you are on your feet all day. Can you imagine if your job was to SIT at a desk for 12 hours a day instead of all your running around. You’re way ahead of the pack. (At least that’s what I told myself when I was teaching.)

    Reply
  12. Lenna

    I have read this study a couple of weeks ago and it freaked me out a bit. I have a sedantery job and even though I try to stand/walk as much as possible, I think I sit for more than 4 hours for sure.. ANd on my days off, it is not like I am moving around all the time. So thank you for writing some good things about sitting as well :)

    Reply
  13. Yolie @ Practising Wellness

    Wow, that’s a scary study! I sit for hours, my “job” right now, when I am not teaching yoga, is studying, so that is definitely seated. I don’t know – I take this obesity/ill health/lack of activity study with a pinch of salt (bad expression, lol!) because I am active and workout and eat very healthily. I can’t do much else!
    Dude, sometimes it is so nice to rest and relax and veg out all day long. Don’t feel guilty at all, no need to. You work SO HARD, and are consistently incredibly active…your body NEEDS a rest after all those night shifts, and it’s thanking you for feeding it good food and letting it chill out :-)
    As usual your eats look divine – I love and admire how you live on fresh food completely! So yum and inspiring.
    I had to laugh about Kyle not liking his lovenotes being on the blog…tell Kyle everyone thought he was awesome and that it was a lovely thing to do…he’s famous for being a kind and poetic husband! :-)
    Take care! xyx

    Reply
  14. Krista (kristastes)

    I have a desk job, but also spend time walking around a manufacturing floor. Even though it’s about 60% desk/40% standing or walking, I feel like it’s not enough movement throughout my workday. I also get bored sitting and that turns into snacking like a crazywoman! I actually am seriously considering going back for nursing :)

    Reply
  15. Sarah

    I’m completely ignoring that study. Too depressing, particularly as when I’m not on the ward most of what I’m doing is sitting on by butt i’m either watching TV, writing my dissertation (yawn), and blogging. I guess at least we don’t have desk jobs… :)

    Reply
  16. Jessica

    Hey miss nurse! Most people (including myself in about a year or so) have to sit on their butts all day at work :) Right now I’m interning 3 days a week- which leads to major time in front of the comp and sitting down! I get pretty stir crazy but I’m mellowing out- it is what it is! I also then remember that this is the life of many working women (and men!) so with our weekly activity- whether it be in the form of walking or hardcore exercising- and healthy eats we’ll do just fine :)

    And yum. Nothing beats apple oats with loads of nut butter (I essentially had the same bfast today, but in pancake form)! Do ittttt.

    Reply

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