Friday 29 September is World Heart Day. In honour of this we have been doing a series of posts about why hooping is good for your heart. In this last post in the series we are going to look at why hooping is good for your physical heart and how it uniquely counteracts sitting for long periods. There is a phrase going round at the moment that ‘sitting is the new smoking’ in terms of top current practices that can damage our health. This post will look at how bad the issue really is, and how we can address it.
Sitting is not the sole factor
Data from a recent study indicates that sitting itself is not the main contributing factor to cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but the issue is more that sitting is commonly connected with other high risk factors:
“a growing body of evidence suggests not all sitting is equal. For example, sitting down at work isn’t strongly linked with long-term health risks. Perhaps that’s because higher status jobs involve more sitting, and higher socioeconomic position is linked with a lower risk of chronic disease.
It’s a different case for sitting watching TV, the type of sitting most consistently linked with long-term health risks such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and an early death.
People who watch a lot of TV tend to be of lower socioeconomic status, unemployed, have poorer mental health, eat unhealthy foods and be exposed to unhealthy food advertising.
Each of these aspects of watching TV increases the chances of poor physical and mental health. But studies cannot account for all these complex influences. In other words, TV involves a constellation of health risks that go uncounted. So TV studies only tell us that excessive TV viewing is a behaviour that needs to be reduced, but tell us practically nothing about the health risks of sitting.” Why sitting is not the ‘new smoking’ – Stuff.co.nz
That is good news for those of us who sit at a computer for work most of the day as it appears that sitting for work is not in and of itself going to cause significant health issues. However, this is not to say that working solidly on a computer all day is not going to contribute to health issues at all. Inactivity is still one of the major risk factors for heart disease.
It does appear that engaging in high levels of physical activity in your general life has a protective effect against extended periods of sitting, particularly if the sitting is connected to engaged activities such as work and travel. “A large recent review combining data from over one million participants found 60-75 minutes of physical activity a day eliminated the harms of sitting when it came to measuring death from cardiovascular disease or death by all causes.” Why sitting is not the ‘new smoking’ – Stuff.co.nz
Mix it Up
If you need to sit for work do not despair. You are not doomed to ill-health as a result. You can counteract the sedentary effects of sitting by including at least 1-2 hours of physical activity in and around it, and this can be done in ‘bites’. You could incorporate more exercise in your travel either by using public transport, cycling or parking a reasonable distance away from your destination. You could use the stairs instead of the lift. You could go for a walk at break times. You could go for a walk in the morning before work or after dinner. You could do some yoga in the evening instead of watching T.V.
Or you could hoop.
Hula hoops can be stored at work and you can normally find a space to spin one round your waist. ‘Hoop Snack’ breaks of 5-10 minutes are a great way to get your heart pumping, your blood flowing and refresh your mind. You could set a timer and take a hoop snack break every 60 minutes, or take one whenever you feel stuck on something. Taking a break and shifting your perspective for a while is often the best way to find the solution you are seeking. You can also hoop while watching T.V. which provides a much healthier way of getting your Netflix fix.
Why Hula Hooping is the perfect counterbalance to sitting
When we sit, we bend backwards through our pelvis and contract through the front of our body. When we hoop we pulse our pelvis forward, open up through our chest and push our shoulders back. It is the perfect counterbalance movement.
Your desk job is not necessarily an early death sentence if you manage it mindfully. It is not inherently true that sitting is the new smoking. Whenever you can, take the active option for travel, try to get up and move (hoop :-)) every hour, and choose health promoting evening activities rather than just plopping down in front of the T.V. for hours every night with a bag of chips and block of chocolate.
Joining a small group activity class where your presence is noticed can help you to stay on track with attending the class. In2Hula HoopFitness classes provide an encouraging, small group environment where you can have fun being active. To see if there is a class near you and to register click here. New class rounds start in October for Cashmere and New Brighton in Christchurch.