Since I was young, I was always fascinated with idea of living forever. The perspective of seeing what will happen and not being limited by concept of time made my imagination run wild. Questions like “what I would do today if I knew that I would live forever” ran through my head and influenced my life choices in interesting ways, like to study hard, to travel and be curious, to never settle for anything less than I deserve.
When I asked people whether they would also be interested to live forever, I go many different answers, but surprisingly to me most people said: “Why would you want to live forever? Would you not get bored?”
Regardless of difference of opinion, I did my best to improve the level of my life to have a healthy lifestyle, researching different techniques that I could do to prolong my life expectancy as much as possible. I did not find an immortality serum yet, but I managed to figure some short-term fixes like: not to smoke (saving estimated 10 years of my life), I did not drink coffee (5 years), to go vegan with other “10 years of miserable bacon free living”, as my father puts it, and more. Although in many ways this blog is reflection of my desire to live forever, this subchapter concretely talks about benefits of taking care of our bodies, and things that most people do wrong.
Have you noticed that when you go for a walk, run, or do any other sort of exercise (which you can do for free) you will also feel good? Only extreme exercising can lead to some undesired consequences, but for most people, considering their lifestyles this is not a problem. Indeed people spend on average 13 hours sitting, 8 hours sleeping and only 3 hours moving. Unfortunately this is not enough.
Even a high level of exercise of 30 minutes per day is not enough to offset the negative impact on health caused by a day long sitting. A reason for that resigns in our limbic system. As we know, our heart pumps blood through our body, which is necessary to bring oxygen to our muscles and tissue, but limbs, which take event more space than blood, don’t have a natural pump to get rid of all the toxins. Wait, I take it back. There is a pump, but it is not an active pump like heart, called movement. If we don’t move throughout the day it is equivalent to having our heart stopping, which is not good. Fortunately, effects of no moving are not as great as of not having active heart, but in a long-term it is also deadly. For example, as soon as we sit down, we stop using our core muscles, transferring all the pressure of our upper body on top of spine, causing for many people responsible for back pain of majority of people. Moreover, electrical activity in our legs turns off, contributing to a drop in calories burn of one per minute. Enzymes production, responsible for breaking down the fats also reduces by 90%, leading to obesity, arthritis, brood pressure, cancer and a huge number of conditions. Moreover, our body led our emotions meaning that when we are sited, we are stagnated. When we spend too much time sited, our mood goes down and decreases happiness we get out of our lives.
Solution is of course to move, periodically. There are many possible rhythms, but once every one-hour is a good guideline for at least 15 minutes. Some intellectual people will see this high number and think it is too much. They will be concerned with how much time and energy they will be wasting, energy they will want to spend on more productive things. Nothing can be further from truth. Taking regular breaks from mental tasks actually improves productivity and creativity. Standing up increases our energy much more than sitting and walking is even more productive increasing energy by 150%. Taking stairs instead of elevator increases energy by 200%.
Continuing sitting is even worth than smoking, predicting a higher level of health deterioration and years of live lost. In fact, if we think we cannot afford to go to the gym or to spend an extra few hour per day of moving, perhaps we should consider $3,000 USD annual per person cost for obesity, or $6,700 USD per year per person for diabetes, which often goes together.
Indeed we used to move a lot before we had all the modern day conveniences. We built up all these technology and comfort around ourselves thinking that we were doing ourselves a favor, thinking that relaxation and being sited is a way to a quality and happy life, but we got it wrong. Lack of movement is indeed seen in many areas of our lives like a lack of a good night sleep. A good night sleep is defined by how many hours of deep sleep we got per night. It is indeed a big deal, as it was shown by K. Anders Ericsson (1993) who calculated a huge decrease of performance, in approximately 35-40% of modern US adult population, who already sleep on average 6 hours and 51 minutes on a weeknight. A lack of 90m of quality sleep can reduce person’s concentration up to one third, as one study shows, and this number is only predicted to go higher as the lack of quality sleep persists. Sleeping pills industry is predicted to be worth 2 billiard dollars a year. How much medicine and health costs can be avoided through a simple movement? Does it not feel good to have a body, which is your “temple”? Sleep related productivity loss and poor performance is estimated to amount to $2,000 per person per year in individual financial loss.
Still, event after a good night sleep we have to remember that we were not moving for approximately 8 hours, which is why it is imperative to exercise as soon as we wake. Remember your grandmother who taught you to stretch every morning? Well, she was right. Exercising in the morning will give an extra boost of energy and concentration to be used throughout the day.
So indeed, when we think of how we need to spend our lives in a health way, we need to think about increasing our movement, which also means that we need to rethink how we are spending our time in places like our homes, work and in between. At home we are estimated to spend up to 80% of our free time, which are for the most part furnished to be sited. We have our TVs, computers, and some people have libraries. All these activities invite us to get out of our fit and relax. Perhaps only cleaning is done standing, and who like to do that? At work we usually sited and when traveling between these locations we like to sit down and relax, but hey! Stand up and move. There is a great expression saying “the best way to relax is to change a task.” So if we are exhausted intellectually, perhaps a physical or a social activity is what we need.
Many good and cheap alternatives already exist which we can implement in our lives to spend more time standing, specially when we need to get some work done. There are things like standing tables, treadmill tables and rubber balls that we can use as chairs, which make us move even while we are sited. Go nuts, look around, be creative. And if your boss asks you why you are always standing, give show him this article.