TED Ed: Why Sitting Is Bad For Your Health

I love to sit, don’t you?

Sitting to read. Watch TV. Sitting with friends.

Most of us sit all day at school or at work. Then, we become couch potatoes in the evening. But researchers warn we’re sitting so much, it’s bad for our health.

The problem, as this TED Ed animated video explains, is that people weren’t built by nature to sit so much. Some of the key points:

  • Our body has 360 joints that enable fluid motion
  • Skin is elastic, made to mold to our motions
  • Blood needs us to move so it can circulate properly
  • Sitting with a curved back and slumped shoulders puts uneven pressure on your spine, causing wear and tear on joints, muscles, and discs
  • Hunching down shrinks your chest cavity, so you can’t breathe fully, so less oxygen gets into your lungs and blood
  • Sitting too much squashes and compresses nerves and blood vessels, leading to numbness and swelling
  • Being sedentary even de-activates an enzyme in the blood that breaks down fat, so sitting hurts your ability to burn fat effectively
  • Since not as much blood and oxygen is getting to your brain, you can’t concentrate as well
  • Sitting has even been linked to heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, kidney and liver problems, and may cause five million premature deaths per year!

Thankfully, There Are Easy Answers: Sit Up Straight and Move More

Yes, grandma was right: Sit up straight! It allows your chest to expand and let more oxygen in, while it also puts less strain on your back. And as for moving more, this recent New York Times article reports that moving for two minutes per hour has strongly positive health effects…yes, just two minutes!

Watch the whole video to learn more:

The “Dig Deeper” Section is Unusually Deep

There are a great many links to more information here, but let me provide seven highlights:

Are Students Sitting Too Much?

Even young, energetic kids are not immune to the dangers of sitting too long. Though they have the advantage of recess during the day and some play sports, many may be sitting for up to 7.5 hours a day, time spent sitting in class, on the bus, doing homework and using the computer or watching TV. And too much sitting can lead to health problems for these students later in life.

Some believe that sitting too long in the classroom may even interfere with learning. “All of our teachers believe that movement enhances learning,” says Kristen Hess, the principal and founder of Hess Academy. “The more you can use your body, the better you can learn concepts.” One of the advantages of an online learning environment is that students are free to get up and move around the room on occasion, or even learn while standing. Since traditional classrooms may not have that option, parents should ensure that their children don’t spend too much time sitting after school.

The message is simple for students and adults. To stay healthy, get a move on!

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