In recent decades, people have started spending more time sitting down than standing up or walking around.
This seems pretty obvious, considering most of us now have office or desk jobs that require us to sit in place all day. And then we hop into our car or the subway—and we do some more sitting.
In fact, a sedentary lifestyle is so dangerous and commonplace that the scientific community has dubbed it the “sitting disease.” While the sitting disease had already taken hold years or perhaps decades ago, 2020 has taken that up to epic proportions as all our days are now spent on the couch, on the bed, or on a chair.
The great scourge of the sitting disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 25% of all Americans spend over 8 hours a day sitting, and around 44% report not doing even moderate activities all week. According to a 2010 study, people who spend over 6 hours a day sitting in place with low activity have a 71% higher mortality rate. If you put those two separate but reliable studies together, the implications are shocking and disturbing — sitting disease, indeed.
Currently, the US ranks 143 out of 168 in terms of physical fitness, with over 40% of Americans not meeting the minimum requirements for physical activity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a sedentary lifestyle is one of the leading causes of death, colon cancer, heart disease, and diabetes globally.
But enough with plain statistics. You may wonder what you can do to turn things around. How can you beat those statistics? You can’t very well quit your desk job, and you may not have the time or motivation to hit the gym. So, what can you do? Well, the answer is simple — walk. It’s that simple, you don’t need to pump iron, just increase the amount of time you spend walking. That’s simple enough, right?
Now, you may think that’s overly simplistic. Surely, it can’t be that easy? Can walking really help all that much? Allow me to convince you.
You don’t need to pump iron or hit the treadmill — walking is a large step toward ensuring optimal health. It’s an ideal activity to keep yourself healthy because you don’t need to carve out extra time or use equipment. You can make small lifestyle adjustments to ensure that you’re walking more.
When you’re talking on the phone, pace around instead of sitting in place. Even those who work from home or have desk jobs need to answer calls and communicate regularly — do it while walking. Get up from your desk regularly and take a few laps around your home or office. Step outside and take a walk for some fresh air. These tiny adjustments can really add up.
Following are some of the most essential benefits of walking.
- Burn Calories: The clearest and most obvious benefit of walking is that you can burn a lot of calories, depending on your walking speed, distance covered, and weight. The more calories you burn, the more weight you lose.
- Strengthen your Heart: According to studies, you can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by around 19% if you walk for 30 minutes a day. The more you walk, the stronger your heart.
- Lower Blood Sugar: You should take a short 15-minute walk after all your meals because it significantly lowers your blood sugar level.
- Improve Joint Mobility: Walking regularly lubricates your muscles and joints, ensuring joint mobility. As such, walking regularly helps you avoid arthritis.
- Think Creatively: Not all the benefits of walking are purely physical. According to research, walking improves your cognitive function, allowing you to think better. The next time you’re trying to solve a problem at work, take a lap, and maybe you’ll find a creative solution.