These days I spend quite a bit of time sitting on my butt at the computer and that's certainly not conducive to good posture -- my posture hasn't been good since I was a kid. Worse than that, sitting all day can be deadly. Dr. Alpa V. Patel, an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, studies the health risks associated with too much sitting. According to Patel, there is a definite correlation between sitting time and reduced longevity.
In one study researchers discovered that people who sat for 11 hours a day or more were 40 percent more likely to die at any given time - of any cause - than those who exercise regularly. Prolonged sitting has also been implicated in colon and breast cancer, and people who sit for most of their day are 54 percent more likely to die of a heart attack than those who are active, according to another recent study.
Even though writing on the computer is something I do almost every day, if I sit for more than an hour, my butt hurts. That thought reminds me of one of my favorite cartoons: There are two chocolate bunnies, one with a big bite taken out of his butt and the other with one ear chewed off. The first one says, "My butt hurts." The other says, "What?"
I feel like that first bunny if I don't get up and move around every half-hour or so. In fact, I've devised ways to make sure I get moving. Practicing the Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation every morning is great for the body and brain but will not make up for sitting all day.
One way I get myself moving is by getting up from my chair about every half-hour and touch my toes or do some other stretching. Sometimes I take two of my small weights (5 lbs. each), lie on my back and extend my arms straight up, then slowly lower them and repeat this several times. I also do some modified pushups during a butt break.
Breathing can be a problem when you sit hunched over a desk for a prolonged period. That posture can restrict the flow of oxygen to your lungs and cause you to breathe less deeply. How does shallow breathing affect you? Perhaps most significantly, when the flow of oxygen to your organs is restricted, your brain can't function properly. This is dangerous because the brain controls the performance of the rest of your bodily functions. Also, when your brain doesn't get enough oxygen, there goes your memory, concentration and ability to think straight! So get off your butt and stand up for some deep breathing.
Live longer and grow younger by taking some butt breaks. You'll be doing your brain a big favor, too.
Ellen Wood of Questa is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of the series of books, "The Secret Method for Growing Younger." Her websites are howtogrowyounger.com and ellenwoodspeaks.com. Contact Ellen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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