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“Move MORE” by SITTING BETTER – not standing more
The health gurus like to blame our “love of the couch” for the current obesity epidemic.
The reason for the obesity epidemic, is simple……….
WE’RE EATING TOO MUCH and MOVING TOO LITTLE.
So if you want to be skinny, the solution is simple, YOU MUST MOVE MORE.
Moving yourself to health
For most people, the picture of MOVING MORE, involves MOVING VIGOROUSLY, for around 30 minutes, every day and then sitting, for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, there are plenty of examples, of people, who gym on a regular basis, who still end up “dead in bed”, thanks to a heart attack.
So while this kind of MOVING MORE, is definitely helpful.
It does NOT always optimize BODY CHEMISTRY.
The growing awareness of the short comings, of the MOVE MORE vigorously, have spurred, the idea, that the secret to BETTER BODY CHEMISTRY and BETTER HEALTH, is to SIT LESS.
Sitting is the new smoking
So, we’re now being encouraged to STAY ON OUR FEET, ALL DAY !
We’ve got walking desks and we’re taking standing phone calls and eating on the run.
But, standing ALL DAY, can be exhausting and doesn’t necessarily create BETTER BODY CHEMISTRY. Plus, it’s NOT all that NATURAL……….
Sitting is part of the human experience
In fact, when scientists have compared modern industrialized populations, to more traditional cultures, they have been shocked to find…..
“INACTIVITY” is more common than assumed.
Objectively measured sitting time, clocks in at 9 hours for industrialized populations and traditional populations.
Putting into question, the belief that TOO MUCH SITTING, drives OBESITY etc.
But hang on a minute…….. there is SITTING and there is “SITTING”.
The love of the couch is new
The soft couch, with plush velveteen cushions, which allow you to sink down and become enveloped in a spongy bliss, is a pretty new phenomenon. As, is the option, to lounge for hours, on something VERY COMFY, and get lost, in another world…………something that TV watching or internet surfing, allows you to do.
Could “couches”, literally be responsible for BAD BODY CHEMISTRY ?
This is what a team of anthropologists, wondered……….
A tradition of lounging
To answer the question, a team of city boys, packed their bags and accelerometers, and flew a few thousand miles, to sit on the couch of the Hadza chief. The Hadza tribe, live in the open savannah of northern Tanzania, what makes this group of people very special is that they are hunter-gatherers.
They’re old school, hunter-gatherers.
i.e. getting dinner, requires more effort than pulling up at the supermarket, then hunting up and down the supermarket shelves and gathering the groceries, in a trolley.
To put food on the table, requires trekking around the savannah, often for days, until you find something to kill (hunt) or pick up (gather).
Gathering is not so hard
The city slickers slapped on accelerometers and then documented, just how much trekking was being done, to get dinner on the table. They confirmed, despite the active nature of the “grocery shop”, the Hadza spent a lot of time, SITTING.
Or should we say, NOT on their feet i.e. NON AMBULATORY.
There were some variations, across age and gender.
But just like westerners, the Hazda, liked SITTING, so to speak. And their intervals of “inactivity” are similar to what it seen in Western populations.
But, in deep dark Africa, there were no fancy comfy couches to SIT ON…..
The SITTING postures
Primarily involved SITTING on the HARD, FLAT, GROUND……………..which if you’ve sat on the ground, for an extended period of time, can be tough on that sit bone, especially if you’re not so well endowed.
And for the record, the Hazda are NOT so well endowed, this is why we’re studying them………. to learn the secrets of being SKINNY !
The team found, their lounging postures, were quite different from industrialized populations – elevating the butt, in a siting squat, was a common posture, used around 20 % of the time.
On the surface at least, the Hadza squat, resembles the gym squat, in terms of positioning, but for the Hazda, it’s not accompanied by a heavy weight, precariously balanced, on the meaty party of the shoulder. There are two versions of the squat : the unsupported and supported. In the case of supported, they pop a boulder or a log, under their toosh.
It’s how they sit.
They can sit like this for hours and they actually find it comfortable.
NOTE : If you’re thinking, there is no way I could do that – it looks, so UN-NATURAL. Rest assured, it’s a natural human posture, which once upon a time, YOU COULD DO ! Most little kids, do it, when they need to take a break, on the run and it’s the preferred posture, for millions of people, to do, number 2, using a non Western toilet.
They are working SITS
Using electromyography (EMG), our team assessed the level of muscle activity in a few of the resting postures.
Squatting, was HARD WORK.
NOTE : The team did not measure the muscle activity associated with kneeling, but they feel pretty sure, kneeling will register as requiring more muscle activity, than sitting on a chair.
So there is SITTING and there is SITTING.
And, it seems, that how we SIT in the West, not how long we sit for, might be, where we are missing the mark.
So the take home message…………..go minimalist.
Toss the couch
It seems human physiology is adapted to experience consistent muscle activity throughout the day. This muscle activity, can be generated with a jog round the block or a squat.
It can’t be generated when you sit on a couch (or a chair) !
The cushioning and support, precludes muscle activity.
And without muscle activity, there is not much blood flow and not much call for nutrient deliveries or waste disposal etc.
So MOVE MORE, buy SITTING better.
NOTE : If squatting, even with support, is beyond you, the next best thing, would be strut your STUFF i.e. STand Up For Fitness. Hey ! Why not do both.
Sitting stops leg blood flow, but if you fidget, you can improve blood flow- it turns out, tiny muscle contractions are better than NO, muscle contractions.
You can hack the biology of exercise, to get the benefit of better sugar control, without spending a fortune. All you need is a hot room and an hour, 3 times a week.
Have you ever seen a FAT giraffe or zebra ? You haven’t. Your body should be keeping your weight in check, find out why yours isn’t