Lives In Motion: Are We Fighting History By Sitting?

by Danny Cullen

Where are you reading this article? In the office? On the couch? In the car? In bed? We’re guessing a large portion of you are sitting, because that’s common today. 

Most of us spend a lot of our time sitting—that’s simply the way it is nowadays. Nine-to-five office jobs have become the norm in the past hundred years, and as such, a lot of us need to sit for the majority of the day. That’s the reality.

The question isn’t whether we’re sitting more—it’s a fact we are—but whether or not we’re programmed to do so. In other words, are we fighting thousands of years of our history when we sit all day? And is it against our best interests to do so?

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A captivating new study examined by The New York Times sought to answer just that. Published last year in the American Journal of Human Biology, researchers used modern technology to examine a group of Africans who still live the ancient human lifestyle of hunting and gathering.

For their subjects they observed a Tanzanian tribe called the Hadza. The Hadza survive by hunting and foraging for berries, honey baobab fruit and tubers (like potatoes and yams). They followed this band for years and analyzed their cardiovascular health by checking their lipid levels, blood pressure, and most recently, their heart rates. 

The data proved that they moved a lot. Typically, the tribespeople who were studied were active for more than two hours a day. The majority of the activity was moderate, usually walking in search of game or digging vegetables. Rarely were they vigorously exercising.

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Yet despite the lack of intense activity, the tribespeople displayed fantastic heart health. The researchers found that they typically had low blood pressure and healthy cholesterol profiles, even in the older constituents.

The takeaway, of course, is to abandon your home and belongings and become a hunter-gatherer.No, not really. The Hazdas face unique challenges themselves that those of us who live in modern luxury do not encounter. 

The fact is, however, that our bodies have not yet caught up with our modern lifestyles. The Hazda lifestyle is much more in line with our biological history, as our bodies are the result of thousands of years of evolution. 

In contrast, the modern desk-centric world has only existed for a hundred years at most. That means our bodies haven’t had much time to adapt. 

Ways To Get Moving

There are plenty of ways to get off your butt and move around throughout the day:

Yoga: This wildly popular form of exercise is conducive to contemporary lifestyles and nine-to-five schedules. Try a quick routine in your living room before work, or an hour-long class at lunch. Z Living's Namaste Yoga has all of the routines you need. 

Core Workouts: Sitting all day makes life too easy on your body. Too keep it in shape, you have to keep its most central parts active and engaged. For easy, at-home workouts that will engage your core, check out kickboxing and ab workout clips from Z Living's Fitness First Class. 

How do you implement physical activity into your nine-to-five? Tell us in the comments. 

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