Sedentary Living: Sit Up Straight And Stop Staring At That Screen!

I’ll be the first to admit that I, too, am a victim — nay, a participant — of the notorious sedentary lifestyle of the 21st century that threatens our health. I spend countless hours hunched over at my desk staring at my computer screen, cycling through my favorite Web sites, checking e-mail and Facebook, watching YouTube and Hulu, chatting with friends and so on.

You know the drill. You probably do it, too. This type of behavior is extremely detrimental to your health and well-being. It is a slow process that atrophies our muscles, reduces our metabolism, ruins our posture and makes us fat; just think of the humans in WALL-E.

It’s all too easy though! We want to sit on the couch entranced with our new HDTVs as we play Xbox or watch the Thursday night lineup of TV shows. It starts with one episode of your favorite show or “Oh, let me just check my e-mail.” which turns into watching more episodes or clicking links and the inevitable Facebooking. This increases our chances of becoming obese, developing heart disease and other chronic illnesses. In exchange, we have gotten a few laughs or some mild mental stimulus from the latest Lady Gaga video (which we just posted on our friend’s wall). Sounds like a bad deal.

The many hours required studying for exams or typing up papers doesn’t help us either. Mindless snacking can also come into play with these seated activities. Also not good. So what do we do? Start a protest to limit the amount of work professors can assign us? Sign a petition? Start a Facebook group? HAH!

Obviously, the most realistic solution is to take responsibility for our actions. I know. This is the least exciting proposition I could offer. But really and honestly, we owe it to the 40-year-old versions of ourselves. It can only be up to us to make small changes in our lives. Some examples include: simply correcting our posture and taking breaks to stretch and walk around during our long study hours or setting time limits on our YouTubing. Encourage the people around us to get a little more active.

Perhaps a gradual change can be from desktop computer or laptop to mobile phone. I’ll be honest; I have an iPhone which has partially freed me from my desk while still maintaining my web addiction. At least it’s a start. Technology isn’t always evil. We just need to use it responsibly and think about how it could possibly jeopardize our long-term health.

The more obvious solution that you already know (but I’m going to repeat anyways) is EXERCISE! That’s right. Take some time out of your precious Facebooking to take advantage of the abundant physical activity resources at the ARC, for example. I dare not suggest… enjoying our pleasant Southern California weather? Hiking anyone? Beach trip? I know you always wanted to learn how to surf. Make it a group activity or at least have a work-out buddy. It’ll make the experience more fun and research shows you’ll be more likely to stick to it. Active exercise is the exact opposite of the sedentary lifestyle and is therefore an obvious way to fight back against it. Come on, I dare you.