I saw Get On Up last night, and I can't say enough about how fantastic I thought it was. It is an unfailingly engaging biography of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, and I don't think you will be disappointed if you get your funky self to the theatre and check it out.
And speaking of getting on up, there has been some important news published this week about the dangers of our sedentary lifestyle. Believe it or not, your chair is a murderer. I have not read Get Up! Why Your Chair is Killing You And What You Can Do About It yet, but believe me, it's on my list. Dr. James A. Levine says sitting has become our favorite drug, and it is toxic.
Chair addiction -- like the alcoholic thirsting for another Scotch -- is the constant need we have developed to sit. We slouch from bed to car seat, to work seat, to sofa. The cost is too great; for every hour we sit, two hours of our lives walk away -- lost forever.In an interview with Rex Huppke of the Chicago Tribune, Levine, a doctor and director of the Mayo Clinic/Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative explains that we were never meant to sit.
Rather, we are structurally and physiologically intended to be upright, running from saber-toothed tigers and gathering wood and tending crops and such.In the modern world, we are rarely called to choose fight or flight. And while our farm dwelling great grandparents usually only sat down to eat or read at the end of the day, we spend most of our time in the unnatural and, according to a growing body of research, suicidal posture of sitting.
Consider the chilling findings of a study recently published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Sitting can be fatal. It’s been linked to cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease... Researchers examined close to 70,000 cancer cases and found that sitting is associated with a 24% increased risk of colon cancer, a 32% increased risk of endometrial cancer, and a 21% increased risk of lung cancer.
The really bad news: You can’t exercise away the habit’s harmful effects. “Adjustment for physical activity did not affect the positive association between sedentary behavior and cancer,” the authors write. Even participants who achieved the daily recommended levels of physical activity were at the same risk as those who spent their day sitting.Think about that for a second. You already know you can't out-exercise an unhealthy diet, but this study suggests that a sedentary lifestyle is so destructive to our physical health that it cancels out the benefits of exercise.
So what can we do? How can we save our lives from the soft seated murderer waiting for us in the office, on the bus, and in front of the television? Osteopath and best selling author, Dr. Joseph Mercola puts it simply, "Defy gravity with intermittent movement." Here are a few exercises you can do right in your cubicle to keep your body in motion, not reclining slowly toward an early grave.
- Standing Neck-Stretch: Hold for 20 seconds on each side.
- Shoulder Blade Squeeze: Round your shoulders, then pull them back and pull down. Repeat for 20-30 seconds.
- Standing Hip Stretch: Holding on to your desk, cross your left leg over your right thigh and "sit down" by bending your right leg. Repeat on the other side.
- The Windmill: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, then pivot your feet to the right. Push your hip out to the left. Raising your left arm skyward, and your right arm toward the floor, lower your body toward the floor while looking up, and then raise your torso back to standing position. Repeat on the other side.
- Side Lunge: Starting with your feet together, take a medium step sideways, and bend down as if you're about to sit. Use your arms for balance by reaching out in front of you. Return to starting position, and repeat 10-20 times. Repeat on the other side.
- Desk Push-Up: Place hands a little wider than shoulder-width apart on your desk. Come up on your toes to make it easier to tip forward. Do 10 repetitions.
- Squat to Chair: With your feet shoulder-width apart, sit down, reaching forward with your hands, and stand back up in quick succession. Do 15-20 repetitions.
- Single Leg Dead Lift: Place your right hand on your desk, and place your weight on your right leg. Fold your torso forward, while simultaneously lifting your left leg backward. Do 10 repetitions on each side.
- Mountain Climber: Get into a push-up position on the floor. Pull your right knee forward to touch your right wrist or arm, then return to push-up position. Repeat on the other side. Try to pick up the pace, and do 20 quick repetitions.
Dr Levine suggests that you can help yourself by moving as little as ten minutes per hour. A study by the American Diabetes Association found measurable benefits from breaks that were as short as four-and-a-half minutes. If you don't want to use one of the recommended exercises, take a walk around the building. Climb the stairs. Have "strolling meetings" instead of sitting down at at coffee shop.
And if you won't take advice from the doctors, listen to Soul Brother Number One.
GET ON UP!