Around 12,000 years ago, our hunter-gatherer ancestors decided to abandon their nomadic ways and settle down in communities. They’d finally figured out a way to grow crops and domesticate animals and came to the conclusion it was a much better option.
Simply put, they realized spending the entire day in a desperate search for food absolutely sucked, and they wanted to chill.
And who can blame them? A lot of us feel inconvenienced when we have to get up off the couch to refill the bowl of chips. Imagine spending 12 to 16 hours a day looking for basic sustenance while keeping an eye out for predators that could rip you to shreds. It’s not a good life.
When our ancestors began to establish sedentary communities, they laid the foundations of civilization. Over time, humans became better and better at finding ways to gather and store food, which freed up a lot of time in the day. This allowed us to develop science, art, literature and distinct cultural characteristics. In the process, we also began to recognize the value of leisure and hobbies and the joys of relaxation.
Over time, humans became better and better at finding ways to gather and store food, which freed up a lot of time in the day. This allowed us to develop science, art, literature and distinct cultural characteristics. In the process, we also began to recognize the value of leisure and hobbies and the joys of relaxation.
One thing all of us seem to have adopted in the process, however, is an affinity for parking our posteriors in one spot for the vast majority of the day.
In other words, people love to sit all day. Indeed, we spend half of our lives on our rear ends.
We sit on our way to work, whether it’s in a car or public transit. We sit at work, hunched over desks for hours on end. And we sit when we come home, resting our feet on our coffee tables as we binge-watch our favorite TV shows.
Then we go to sleep, get up in the morning, wash, rise and repeat. It’s the same cycle over and over.
And why not? Why shouldn’t we sit back and relax?
It’s a fair question. If relaxing is what makes you happy, by all means, do so. But you should realize two things: Number one, sitting all day goes against human biology and evolution; number two, sitting all day is literally killing you.
Allow me to elaborate. Humans are the dominant species on this planet. This is primarily due to our cerebral abilities. It’s also a product of the fact we can stand up.
In essence, no other animal has the same capacity to walk on two legs and use their hands in the way we do. This ability allowed us to mold the world around us because with our hands free, we were able to begin developing and using tools.
We’ve obviously evolved a great deal since our days as hunter-gatherers, and we certainly enjoy a drastically better quality of life. But one way we’ve arguably regressed is how much time we spend sitting down. It’s made us decidedly less healthy.
Research has shown that even if you exercise, sitting down all day can drastically increase your risk of dying early from disease or other health conditions, from heart disease to diabetes as well as cancer.
One study, which monitored 92,000 women over the course of 12 years, showed they had a 12 percent increase of dying from virtually any health condition if they sat for 11 hours or more a day. More specifically, they had a 27 percent increase of dying from heart disease and a 21 percent increase of dying from cancer.
There’s also evidence that sitting down all day can have the same adverse health effects as smoking.
As the Guardian notes, another related study revealed adults who watch an average of six hours of television per day are likely to die around five years earlier than someone who doesn’t watch TV.
A lot of this has to do with the detrimental impact remaining static has on our metabolism. This has all kinds of negative consequences on the body.
There is a very simple solution to this: standing.
Standing up extends the length of telomeres, a vital part of human cells impacting both aging and disease, as noted by Stanford University School of Medicine. Translation: Standing up helps you live longer and healthier.
Going to the gym every day is a great habit, but medical professionals agree it’s not enough.
Stand up at work (buy a standing desk), or get up as often as possible throughout the day and stretch out. Go on walks, stand up when you’re watching TV and give up your seat on the bus or train to someone who really needs it. It could save your life.
We have two legs for a reason, and we should stop taking them for granted.
By the way, I wrote this standing up (I’d be a hypocrite.)