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Friday, July 13, 2012

The Sitting Disease: Is Sitting Killing You?

The other day I came upon

The question the graphic at the right asks is simple "Is Sitting Killing You?"



The idea here is simple. 

The longer you sit each day the more likely you are to die (94% more likely than someone who doesn't according to one part of the site).  A Mayo Clinic cardiologist goes so far to say: "For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking~ Martha Grogan"

Now who ever it is that creates this site is convinced that sitting is bad.  They even have a number of studies that back it up (listed here).

But if you think about the big, historical picture of humanity, particularly for the traditional rolls that women fill (and some of these studies target women) sitting around doing whatever you need to do to raise your family, gather, make food, etc.

You see, the studies only "suggest" links between a sedentary life style and early death - they don't show "causal" links.

For example, and I quote "[the study ] suggests that the more people sit, the shorter their average life span."  Might it be that these people have a variety of other issues as well and they sit simply as part of these other issues? 

Of course.  But you won't read that here... 

They present "statistics" to make their case but the question is are they "meaningful" statistics?

Now the work I do means that I sit a lot - probably in the "danger range" as described in these studies.

Should I be afraid?

I don't think so, and here's why.  I have my little, four legged work buddies that I have written about.  Someone's bladder is always full, someone's noticed turkeys outside, someone's notice we're about to suffer a catastrophic attack by horse or deer.

So I have to get up - get up and run around the house to find out what's going on.  To tend the wounded if there's a particularly nasty deer or horse attack.  Change water for the tired warriors.  So I don't sit at a stretch for more than probably an hour.

If I am lucky I might get two or three hours of uninterrupted time at a stretch to get something done.  But normally not.

So is sitting as bad as smoking?

There's an interesting idea.  The sitting police will now come and take away all the chairs in your house so that you cannot sit.

The real truth is far different, I think.

Yes, modern life is crap: too much stress, too much sitting, too much bad food, too much bad medicine, and on and on and on...

Sites and "theories" like this are probably true in the sense that if you look at the modern working person one of their "problems" is too much time sitting in one position.  Along with a thousand other problems.

The question is not "is modern life bad" - it is - the question is what are you going to do about it?

Many people aspire to a job "in the city."  With a company car - an expensive house in the "suburbs."  With power and money and travel and all the rest...

But with that comes problems: smoking and other "stress relief" behaviors that are bad.  Sitting.  Too much bad food.  Too many problems at home.

So to pick out one thing, like "cholesterol" or "sitting" and say that "its killing us" is stupid.

We're busy killing ourselves because of "greed" and "the love of money."

We have to go, go, go to get where we want to go.  To hell with Little Jr - shove him off to daycare so we can kill ourselves sitting...????

I think the real solution is to sit down and ask ourselves this:

Why are we here?

Things, like a 50" plasma TV, do not make your life better.  If you are competitive and your neighbor has a 40" plasma then you might think your life is now better - but its not.  The neighbor, also being competitive will go out and buy a 52" plasma TV just to tweak you.  So how do you win?

You don't.

(See "The Sneeches" by Dr. Seuss for details.)

Truly we have lost sight of what's important.  Working fourteen hours a day for a better life might be a good thing as long as you know when you've actually found "the better life" - but what if you don't know - you just keep going.

Piling on more and more "bad things" in life: bad food, too much travel, too much sitting, too much of everything.

You must ask "why" are you sitting for many hours a day.

I sit because I have specific goals for myself - and its easiest to accomplish them sitting.

But I have changed many, many other aspects of my life and health - I am not obese, I am in good physical shape, I am properly nourished.

So my belief is that if I need to sit I should sit.  If I need to stand I should stand.

And I should not worry about it because it causes stress.

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