Homo Sedentarius

Cambridge, MA, fall 2019

Dear Reader,

I don’t know you, but I bet that you are sitting as you read this right now. I too am sitting as I write this line for you. Although I try to be active, I usually find myself seated for one reason or another. As 2019 draws to a close, thoughts like “I sit too much” are slowly converted into my new year’s resolutions. Anyone will tell you that a sedentary lifestyle is bad for you. But just how bad is it really? Well, I have taken the liberty of looking it up and taking some notes on the subject from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Sitting for long periods uses less energy than standing/ moving
  • Research has linked sedentary lifestyles to health problems including obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease and cancer (yikes!!).
  • Any extended sitting (think your 9-5pm) can be harmful
  • Recommendation: try incorporating bursts of activity into your day!

While incorporating some movement into one’s routine sounds good and reasonable, this may prove to be a bit trickier than anticipated in the modern day.

If you think about it, we humans evolved to stand. Homo Erectus’s ability to stand allowed him to use his hands for building tools and crafting, rather than for purposes of transportation. Our ability to use our hands advanced us and allowed us to write and create large and sophisticated communities. With these developments, humans were able to settle down and form societies rather than being constantly on the move. 

Today, we have settled almost too much. Many of us mostly move to get to our next sitting place. Think about it. An average day for me is as follows: wake up, walk to work, sit at work, walk to the subway, sit on the subway, walk home and then sit at home until sleep. Of course, there is some variance. Some days, I go to the gym. However, a 45-min gym session makes up only 3.125% (!?!) of the day. 

I think about sitting today in particular, because even though it is a Saturday, I found myself clocking in an 8-hour workday. However, unlike most days when I walk for almost an hour to the office, today I woke up late and took the subway. After sitting for nearly 8 hours, I took an Uber home. Today was the least active day that I have had in a long time.

Becoming more active will not happen overnight; it is a process like everything else. I see incorporating more movement into my everyday routine as a lifestyle change. Lifestyle change means small, incremental, natural adjustment. Today, I will do yoga before bed. Tomorrow I will go to the gym. Monday, I will plan to do even more. Now it is getting late and I’m losing energy, so I will get up now while I still have the willpower to do yoga. Dear Reader, I don’t know what your goals are, but I wish that you will always have enough energy and willpower to pursue them! Good night now.

Love,

Raven

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