Sitting too much as we age?…

Having spent a lifetime in a constant flurry of activity, it’s been refreshing doing nothing. It’s a skill I’ve had to learn. Tom, on the other hand, has been a role model, quite the expert. I’m not criticizing, just observing.

In our old lives, I seldom sat down during the day, until I’d finally fall on my face after dinner. This changed when I began researching and booking our worldwide travels while sitting in my comfy chair all day with my fingers madly flying across the keyboard. In March 2012, I began writing this blog that ultimately added to my daily “sitting time.”

Since arriving in Tuscany, Italy on June 16, 2013, I’d found myself sitting more than I had during those last seven months in Minnesota.

Sitting was not good for me at that time and it’s not good for me now. Sure, I do my hilly walks which prove to be 30-minutes of strenuous activity. But the remainder of my day has been spent performing low activity household tasks such as cooking and laundry. A considerable amount of time is spent reading, writing, and searching online. Not good for one’s health, all of which are activities performed while sitting.

With no health club within an hour’s drive, I’ve had to accept the limitations of my opportunities to work out and, my motivation has diminished to be as active as I had been in the US, as a retired person prior to March 2012. 

It’s mighty pleasant sitting on the veranda overlooking the mountains, watching the butterflies fluttering about, listening to the birds singing, only occasionally batting off the flies and the bees. The hours can easily tick away.

Don’t we seniors notice a stiffening in our legs and back when sitting too long? Aren’t we all aware that over time, excess sitting will cripple us as we age, causing the tentative steps so familiar to old age? Doesn’t it nag at us that moving around spending less time sitting will keep our step youthful and determined? Yes, to all of these.

Ironically, as I’d thought more and more about this reality during this past year and a half, realizing that even an hour of strenuous working out each day won’t defray the ravages of sitting for the remainder of the day, I stumbled across a book, Sitting Kills, Moving Heals by Joan Vernikos, PHD. I couldn’t download and read it fast enough.

I must admit that guilt was a huge motivator for me to read this book. It’s scientific studies, many of them dry and boring, tempted me to put it down at times, but the guilt forced me to forge ahead. 

It changed everything for me. The mere act of purchasing the ebook made me start moving more frequently.  After all, I’d made the $8.69 purchase (which you can find at any online bookseller). 

Reading the book brought me to the next level, realizing that the mere act of slowly arising from my chair without the use of my arms for support (or working toward this in time) once every 20 or 30 minutes, to a short time later slowly sitting back down, once again without the use of my arms, could greatly improve my level of fitness.

The research Dr. Vernikos extensively manifested as a result of her year’s long studies of NASA astronauts losing muscle mass while in space, even for short periods of time. These studies are astounding, shared in this book. 

Rather than spending hours here retelling the author’s profound years of research, I recommend to all our of senior readers, to please consider this small investment in buying and reading this book that will change the quality of life as we age. (I should mention that we are in no way involved in the sale, the marketing, the profits, or distribution of this book or any other books we’ve mentioned here).

The first few days I started this process, I set the timer on my phone, leaving it in the other room. I had to get up to turn it off. Easy. Now a month later, I no longer need a timer, automatically knowing it’s time to slowly stand and a short time later to slowly sit back down, hands-free. This simple act affects the body in the same manner as if we actually stood for 30 minutes (see location 1231 in the ebook).  It’s all about gravity.

As written in the book, based on scientific research, this simple act is life-changing, definitely worth a read, definitely worth trying, with nothing to lose.

Now, a month after implementing this process, my legs don’t fall asleep, the stiffness has greatly improved and I feel more steady on my feet than ever. Of course, this process may not be possible for some, with serious limitations, but for the rest of us, it’s a small commitment for a huge gain, especially if a daily workout routine is unappealing.

Life is short.  Health and well being not only extend our lives but the all-important “quality of our lives,” allowing us to live life to the fullest treasuring every moment whatever we may choose to do, wherever we may choose to be.

For me, for now, the veranda is all the more enjoyable, no longer feeling guilty about sitting which added a rich quality to the experience.