One of the most discussed perils of modern living is the fact that we spend the majority of our days sitting down. Even before the pandemic had us trapped in our homes for almost a year (who’s counting?), the design of modern life, where people work for long stretches of time in an office or at a desk, means that there’s no way of avoiding sitting.
While sitting down for long stretches of time isn’t great (it messes with your posture and encourages all sorts of lethargic lifestyles), data looking into the issue suggests that things aren’t as simplistic as some health experts would make it out to be.
Statistics that claim that we spend 15 hours a day sitting down don’t account for how varied this experience is from person to person, or how different their weekdays are from their weekends.
Professor Dan Liberman, author of the book Exercised, spoke with the Huffington Post about the ways in which information is manipulated in order to make us feel bad about our health. “We make them feel anxious and nervous and worried and confused because we give them all this bad information, and there’s a lot of value and judgment added to it,” he said.
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Liberman is also opposed to the idea of evolution as a health hazard; just because we work in offices now doesn’t mean that our ancestors didn’t used to spend a lot of time sitting down. While they had to hunt and forage in order to eat, they also had to rest. “Your average hunter-gatherer out there who has no chairs and doesn’t have a desk job, they sit as much as most Americans,” he said.
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Sitting down is inescapable, whether you’re an Olympic athlete or you work in an office. Whether you’re sitting down to eat, watch TV, rest or have a conversation with friends, you likely spend a significant amount of time doing it. The one activity that’s in your control and that can work to your benefit is how active you are in between; set periodical timers to get up and stretch, go for a walk or play with your dog. If you want to go the extra mile, you can try a standing desk or a medicine ball. Who knows, the discomfort might just push you to work faster.