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Escape The Sedentary

Aliens have come to planet earth. Thankfully, these aliens are more like ET’s parents and less like the ones from the scary Alien movie series. The government has assigned you as the head of a special task force designed to enlighten the aliens about modern-day American life.


As you begin to show the aliens around, they are flabbergasted. Earth’s inhabitants live a perplexing existence. The humans live for short-term gratification. They seek comfort above all else, yet this very comfort is what ends up hitting them with a chronic disease making them VERY uncomfortable in the end. To find solace from the tiresome effects of gravity, the humans sit slouched in chairs all day long. Eventually their sitting leads to pain and discomfort for a body that is adapted to being stuck in a poor position. They use glowing screens to stimulate their eyes and minds to escape. They eat food that is easy instead of nourishing. Instead of climbing stairs or walking to get to a destination, they move about in warm little boxes (cars, planes, and elevators) being effortlessly whisked along.  


The average American sits in their chair at breakfast, sits on the way to work, sits at work, sits on the ride home, and then sits at home and watches Netflix at night. 


So, what’s wrong with sitting? To quote Dr. Kelly Starrett, the author of Deskbound, “Recent studies show that too much sitting contributes to a host of diseases—from obesity and diabetes to cancer and depression—and literally shortens your life. The facts are in: your chair is your enemy, and it is murdering your body.” Sitting confines our body to a specific position for however long we are sitting. And the body “adapts.” Muscles atrophy, the respiratory system learns to breathe in a compensatory sitting pattern, and the immune system weakens. Over time, with weakened muscles, poor breathing, and a shoddy immune system, our genetic code changes to express disease instead of health. This is why sitting is being called the new smoking. 


The aliens are even more confused at the “exercising” humans. The ones running on a revolving mat or lifting things up and down repeatedly in a gym in the name of health. Our alien visitors would be befuddled at our conflicting behavior. Why would a creature that seeks comfort all day long punish itself with cardiovascular exercise and weight training? Think of the person who heads out of their house before dawn to attend a 5 a.m. spin class, intense bootcamp, or to go for a jog. They punish themselves for 45 to 90 minutes, sweating their brains out in the name of health and longevity. Intense exercise (especially in a life of high stress) is a recipe for burnout, nervous system breakdown, and weight loss plateaus. Sitting nearly the entire day and then exercising at a moderately high pace for an hour or so is not how we’ve lived for thousands of years. Research shows that large amounts of sitting are not countered by a few hours a week of intense exercise. 


So, how are we meant to move? 


Pre-agricultural humans slept until the sun came up, and moved all day. It was necessary for survival. It’s been woven into our DNA. Without consistent and varied movement, chronic disease and the loss of independence and mobility are inevitable. 


Instead, we need to entrench our lives with movement. We need to go for walks in the morning, stand at work, take breaks to walk during the day, and build movement routines into our lives.


After breathing, walking should be the most important movement in our lives. 


Move often. Move well. Escape the sedentary.

 "Deskbound: Standing Up to a Sitting World (1): Kelly Starrett ...." Accessed 5 Nov. 2019.

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