Sitting is not quite the new smoking, but could throw off your hormones

As humans we are meant to move, live, love, laugh, and enjoy life- yet as one of the most developed species, we also have a wide range of emotions (thank you Mercury in retrograde for emphasizing these- it's when communication and technology can go wonky) that can also make us appreciate those joyful moments. And to hone in on the first characteristic, movement is incredibly important to our health, allowing optimal blood flow (carries oxygen for additional energy), lymphatic movement, and nutrients to circulate to our cells, improving digestion, detoxification, metabolism, sleep, and memory/thought processes. 

If you've heard sitting is the new smoking (based on a single study, hasn't been proven since) with all its deleterious effects, it's not the most accurate, but does have a point. Sitting for long periods of time can leave us achy, sore, onset of backpain and headaches, prostate/urinary issues, and lowered metabolism. It also can contribute to hormone imbalance such as elevated estrogen as studies have demonstrated that in women sitting over 5-10 hours per day can elevate a women's risk for circulating estrogen due to decreased breakdown. Men, you're not exactly out of the loop- your main hormone is testosterone, and if you're not using your muscles, then your body doesn't quite see the need to make more testosterone because that's what's needed for repair. Further, for all of us, it decreases our metabolism (how fast processes move in our body), and decreases the effectiveness of insulin, which is how our body takes sugar into cells for energy, so we're more prone to give into those cravings because our cells haven't received sugar/energy. On the other hand, standing for long periods of time can lead to reduced cognition, blood pooling in legs, and fainting. In other words, just like how we practice moderation in foods, the same should be said for movement- aka avoiding extremes. 

Here are some easy ways to get moving & blood flowing to keep your metabolism up and hormones balanced: 

  • Drink enough water every hour to pee - It gets you up and moving! And you're likely to get lots of water in, which also helps curb appetite, boosts energy, improve weight loss efforts, etc. 
  • Flex your large thigh muscles every 20 minutes - There's a lot of metabolism potential in these huge muscles, our quads, so doing this can help boost metabolism, and help move all the blood and lymph systems that run through these muscles. 
  • Set a reminder to move - Run up and down a flight of stairs, walk around the office, go pee, get some more water, stretch, whatever it takes for you to move your body- it's so important for your physical and mental health! 

Movement is something we're meant to do, and it doesn't always have to be bootcamps. Consider other ways like yoga and pilates, perhaps finding classes nearby or videos online (or work with a professional first if you're new), so you have a plan in place and know that you won't hurt yourself. And prioritize yourself- use this time as a time for self care, where you get to collect yourself and your thoughts. As the saying goes, "Take 20 minutes a day to meditate (or move), if you don't have 20 minutes, make it an hour."