{Green Living} Stand up, Walk More and Look in the Distance!

Photo via Sparre.Enger

Have you noticed how often we bloggers give advice that we need to hear ourselves? Earlier this year I organized a Simple Living Challenge on my blog, which connected me to incredible new friends and in the course of three weeks we explored the ways to simplify our everyday and to make our lives deeper and infused with meaning.

Even before the challenge had started I had realized the importance of out-loud dreaming because in my strive to simplify my life and help my readers do the same I unwittingly found myself using a very simple netbook instead of my powerful laptop. Ironic as it is, simple technology is not good. It doesn’t do the job. In fact, it makes things worse. After thousands of pageviews, hundreds of comments, tens of guest posts during the challenge, the reward I got was ruined vision, spasms of the eye muscles and a new glasses prescription.

Simple. I am now allowed to spend thrice as less time in front of the computer than before my Simple Living Challenge, and more than 2 months later I haven’t yet recovered fully. Don’t ask me what I had to give up because of that. It is much, and dear to me. But I am not telling you this to provoke your pity. I wanted to talk about the dangers of prolonged hours of sitting or staring near.

The dangers of sedentary life

Did you know that sitting for more than 6 hours a day increases your risk of dying within 15 years with 40%? According to research we now spend even more time sitting (about 9 hours) than sleeping (about 7 hours) but clearly our bodies were not made for such intense and long periods of inactivity.

As soon as you sit, the electrical activity in your muscles shuts off, calory burning drops to only 1 per minute and the enzymes that help break down fat drop with a staggering 90%.

Now add staring at close distance to sitting. The increased hours of close distance pressure on our eye muscles lead to a condition called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) which affects 90% of people who spend more than 3 hours at the computer. Among the CVS symptoms are headache, dry eyes, blurry vision, and long-term nearsightedness. Further aggravating these symptoms are improper lighting conditions (glare or bright overhead lighting) or air moving past the eyes (overhead vents, direct air from a fan).

Here is self-explanatory infographic to support my words:
Sitting is Killing You
Via: Medical Billing And Coding

How to keep ourselves healthy

Along the course of a few months I met 3 eye specialists and learned that in order to avoid eye problems I should look outside almost every 10 minutes thus providing relief for my eye muscles. What ophthalmologists consider a resting position for the eye is to look at a distance longer than 5 meters. Daylight is essential for eye health as well and regular breaks, let’s say every 30 minutes should be taken as well.

You can combine these breaks with simple exercising to keep your body awake and the enzymes working, which is also beneficial to your creativity.

What I consciously couldn’t stop myself from doing, my Simple Living Challenge did for me. It finally got me to simplify my life and rid it from too much online stress and hopefully got it healthier as I now move much more. But please, don’t wait for something similar to happen to you. You don’t need to hear it from the doctor. Instead you can take it from someone like me, who just got that experience and is willing to help you out. Stand up, walk more and look in the distance!

How do you fight the plague of sitting?

Sonya Kanelstrand

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  1. Nerrissa says:

    This is great information. Thank you for doing the research and sharing it. Selling on the internet has become my fulltime job for the past 3 years and now I beginning to wonder if I should find a part time job that requires me to be on my feet. I’m not sitting all day, I do get up to take photos, organize storage, pack items, clean the office and do house chores, but not nearly as much as I am in the chair. Rethinking my schedule – thanks!

  2. This was definitely an interesting read, Sonya, thank you!
    Along these lines, I had a recent experience I’d like to share: I had a physical therapy appointment this week as I have been working hard to no longer be bed-ridden or wheel chair bound. I am making quantum leaps in my recovery and have become very mobile for someone who relied on a wheelchair so a year and a half. I told my phys. therapist that I am comfortable when sitting and comfortable when moving. The only time when it is excruciating is when I am just standing (without movement).
    She told me that the body was not designed to just stand there. It was designed for movement and rest after a day of movement. So although sitting may be doing damage, standing apparently is an even worse culprit!
    If anything, I found that validating to what I was experiencing. Plus moving in any way that I can during the day ultimately feels soooo good!

  3. Wow. Just, wow. My husband and I have started our workout program back up again and now I’m convinced even stronger that we need to do more than just an intense hour every day. We do enjoy relaxing in front of the tv many nights after working out but I think with both of us at jobs sitting at a monitor upwards of 10 hours a day (mine can sometimes be even more as a writer and sometimes 7 days a week), it is ringing crucial just to get up and do some jumping jacks or something during the day to break it up. Thanks for the wake up call, sorry about your own issues but hopefully you’ll be able to correct it and get better armed with all this knowledge now!

  4. Linda Everett says:

    Sonya that was a wonderful read. I have been badly nearsighted my entire life so i don’t think much about the further harm that a sedentary life dows for the body. When you are busy busy busy all the time with a job that keeps you in front of a computer screen it is hard to make yourself get up and walk..but i do try every day.

    Thanks again for this post!

  5. Thank you so much Sonya for sharing this with us! I know how hard it has been for you. I fortunately have a job that requires me to stand all day (teaching), but I have been on leave this winter and I already see the effects on my health. I spend hours in front of the computer without realizing how much time has past and I hardly eat, but haven’t lost weight because my body isn’t moving! I am defintely going to follow your advice. I may have to set an alarm at first, but I will take breaks and decrease my sitting time!