Conquering Couch-Potatoism

Are you sitting down? You might want to stand up for this.

Earlier this year there was a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine that looked at what happens to people who sit too much.

The researchers concluded: “Prolonged sitting is a risk factor for all-cause mortality [death], independent of physical activity.”

Turns out the more you sit, the sooner you die.


Gym Workouts Aren’t Enough

I don’t know about you, but most of the work I do, most of my socializing, and actually most of my life, takes place while I’m sitting.

Writing blog posts, talking with clients, eating with family and friends, watching movies, playing board games, getting my hair done — I’m seated for all of it. And here I thought I was active!

Yes, I go to the gym three times a week to work my muscles (such as they are). And yes, I usually travel to work under my own power.

But the study made it clear that a few hours of weekly exercise don’t cut the mustard if you really want to be healthy. Prolonged sitting — even between workouts — is deadly.

It makes total sense that the negative effects of sitting 12-16 hours a day can’t be magically wiped out by an hour of exercise here and there.

So I decided to make sure I’m not sitting for at least two hours, every single day.

2 Hours a Day

There was a time when 2 hours a day of anything seemed impossible, not to mention totally unnecessary. But with this new information I’ve changed my mind. I can’t afford not to make the time.

What’s really motivating is the math.

I’m awake, on average, for 16 hours a day. So if I succeed in not-sitting for 2 hours a day, I still might sit for up to 14 hours a day. When I look at it that way, two hours seems minimal. And do-able.

Not-sitting is awkward for me unless I’ve got something to do. Otherwise, I’m just standing around.

I don’t want to get arrested for loitering, so my plan is Two Hours of Physical Activity Per Day.

My goal is to lead a healthy, balanced life, not to push my physical and mental limits like a Navy SEAL. So I don’t always have to sweat to meet my goal.

Two hours of activity for me might include walking, yoga, qigong, bike riding, weight training, stretching, dancing, doing cartwheels, lying with my legs up in the air or resting against the wall, etc.. Anything that doesn’t involve sitting on my duff counts as activity.

Even  housework, should I ever choose to do some, will count.

I probably won’t do cartwheels, come to think of it. I just threw those in for color.

I’ve been on this plan for about six weeks now and, to be honest, it’s not always easy to make the time. Not because I don’t have the time, but because I don’t want to give up something I’m doing while sitting!

So I don’t reach my 2-hour goal every single day, but the fact that I do my best to reach it each day has already improved my life.

Now if I can just remember to drink more water…

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