The Dangers of Becoming a Couch Potato During Social Distancing.
The world has come to a screeching halt, and you now find yourself in your home for the next few foreseeable weeks. During these dark and confusing times it is so important to take care of your physical and mental health. Your family and friends depend on it & so does your immune system!
The Temptation of Becoming a Couch Potato:
When you are at home with family or alone waiting out this virus you might be tempted to sit on the couch and binge that series you’ve been dying to watch, or finally curl up into a ball and read that book that has been collecting dust, or maybe just sit down with loved ones and have a much needed catch-up. All of these things are the small silver lining amid this fiasco. Nothing is wrong with being confined to the indoors, but you should know the dangers of being sedentary; that is, sitting down for long periods of time. Immobility like this is actually very hard on your body which is, believe it or not, built to MOVE!
Studies suggest that if you are going to sit all day, you should be getting up at least every half hour to move. Whether that’s going for a walk, stretching, cleaning up the house, or going for a jog, this is so important for your overall wellness. Let’s take a look at some of the short-term dangers of immobility. (There are plenty of very serious long-term dangers but that’s a whole different blog).
You Were Built to Move!
Your body is made in such a way, that it can sustain itself upright against the force of gravity – that’s pretty cool if you think about it! Our structure made up of bones, muscles, soft tissues and stretchy skin is evidence for our purpose of mobility. This is made most evident when the body responds to the lack of movement.
What Happens to Your Body When You Sit Down:
Sitting down is not bad, obviously. However when you’re sat on the couch, it becomes difficult to keep good posture, or when you are on the computer your body tends to slouch. This puts unnecessary pressure on your back bone and the muscles holding it together. Not to mention it compresses your lungs and keeps them from using their full capacity (Dalkilinç,2017). So unless you watch TV with impeccable posture (which might scare your friends) I’d suggest getting up and moving every half hour or so.
Another thing to understand when you sit down is that your body is made of soft tissue comprised of bones, muscles, arteries, nerves, and veins. When you sit down this soft tissue scrunches up in certain places where you bend and fold which restricts blood flow causing swelling and numbness (Dalkilinç, 2017). The numbness is due to the inability of your nerves to fire their signals properly, and swelling stems from your veins being bent which restricts the blood from passing through.
Perhaps you are taking this off time to read, or maybe you are sat working from home, either way, you are in need of concentration. And your brain, in order to concentrate properly, needs constant blood flow and oxygen. When you are sat down, and your soft tissue is smushed in various places, blood flow, and the oxygen within that blood, struggle to get to the brain as quickly as it could if you were stood up or moving about.
This might be a no-brainer, but the actual anatomy might be news to you. When you sit down for long periods of time, your blood flow is restricted and the little fat burning enzymes that sit within the capillaries of your blood, called lipoproteins, don’t have access to a large amount of fat particles because the flow is restricted (Dalkilinç, 2017). Think of it like little fat particle traffic: the lipoproteins are waiting for new fat particles, but the traffic is not moving along!
You Don’t Need a Gym to Get Moving!
Just take to google. In light of this crisis the internet is filled with excellent at-home work outs, quality yoga classes, kick-boxing classes. Some gym instructors are even live streaming workout classes, even some for the kids! Think about it: you can use this time to make an even more concentrated and tailored effort to get your body in shape by booking online personal training sessions. Check out London’s first private PT studio here to connect with a trainer for a session. Or get creative, move the furniture and throw yourself a personal dance party, do some spring cleaning, whatever it is, just move! And know that exercise keeps your immune system healthy and will absolutely contribute to your health in the event that it becomes compromised. Stay safe & stay movin!