Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The American Sedentary Lifestyle

With the innovation of TV, computers, and video games, it's no argument that the American society has become more of a sedentary society.  Most people sit at their jobs or in school, come home and sit in front of the TV, then go to bed.  Of course this means that we aren't getting enough exercise when we are stationary all day long.  However, there are other detriments to sitting for a majority of your awake time.

When you're sitting in front of the TV or computer, most people tend to snack more.  Now, this wouldn't be too big of an issue if people snacked healthily and in moderation.  But that's typically not the case.  Most snackable foods are stuffed with simple carbs, fat, salt, and sugar.  And when you sit around and eat these types of food that are supposed to be converted into energy, your body stores them as fat.  Not only fat in the beer belly or thighs, but more dangerous fat that surrounds and can restrict our vital organs.  One way to help get rid of that fat is to get up and move around.

When you're sitting, you're not moving and not getting the essential exercise that your body needs.  Exercise helps keep your blood flowing, increases your metabolism, releases feel-good chemicals like endorphins and enkephalins, reduces body fat, and has many other benefits.  There are companies, schools, and programs that have realized that when people exercise, they are generally more productive and happy.  Programs like the NFL's Play 60 have really made an effort to promote kids getting up and moving around for at least 60 minutes per day.  There are a plethora of other programs by schools, businesses, and organizations that are helping to fight the sedentary lifestyle that most Americans have become accustomed to.

Finally, there's actually recent research that suggests that sitting too long during leisure time can increase your risk of premature death.  They studied two different groups of people; those who sat for more than 6 hours per day and those who sat for less than 3 in their leisure time.  And the surprising fact about the study was that it showed that the increased risk for premature death had nothing to do with exercise.  It was purely if you sat for more than six hours, even if you exercised.

So even if you don't want to miss that favorite show of yours, you can do some crunches or lunges while watching, or make sure that you go for a half hour walk outside before or after the show.  Just getting started is half the battle, and once you do, it will become second nature before you know it.

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