Humans weren’t made for a sedentary lifestyle—our bodies were made to move. But most of us don’t move nearly as much as we should if we’re hoping for a long, healthy life.
New York Times bestselling author Ilchi Lee chronicles the harm of sitting disease in his book, I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years: The Ancient Secret to Longevity, Vitality, and Life Transformation.
Sitting disease is a catchphrase created to describe the modern-day sedentary lifestyle that factors into the poor health some people find themselves facing. Whereas a generation or two ago, people had to stand up and move to do simple tasks like answer a telephone, take a pay check to a bank, or go shopping, these days all these things can be done from the comfort of a chair in our own house.
And that convenience is taking a toll on our health.
Modern medicine has spent a lot of time, money, and effort searching for ways to treat diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. But much of it could be prevented if we just avoided the activity that can set the stage for most of our problems—sitting. Inactivity should be recognized as a disease all on its own.
For all its medical advancements, the United States ranks a shockingly low 42nd in life expectancy out of the 224 countries on our planet, Lee points out in his book. And those who live past the age of 65 face the high probability of having a chronic illness—87 percent do.
What Can We Do About It?
If sitting and inactivity is a disease, there’s only one logical way to stop the damage it’s doing to your body—and that’s move more frequently. If you’re used to sitting all day, the idea of moving around can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.
You don’t need any fancy equipment or a gym membership to improve your health and protect longevity. Going for a 30-minute walk a minimum of three times a week can do the trick. Of course, you might find you enjoy walking so much that you’ll miss it on the days you don’t. If that happens, add in more exercise and consider branching out into other types because your body will thank you for it.
By getting up and moving instead of sitting too much at your computer or on your couch, you’ll prevent sarcopenia, which is old-age-related muscle loss.
You’ll be better off if you make exercise a lifelong habit, but even if you don’t start until middle age, you will still reap the benefits. While your peers are finding it hard to get around, you may just be hitting your prime.
Those who move around the most can add time to their lives. When you’re past the age of 40, doing moderate exercise for at least 150 minutes or doing 75 minutes of vigorous exercise during the week can help you live longer, approximately 3.4 years longer than if you didn’t exercise, Lee points out.
A Real-Life Example
It can be exciting to think of a life in which old age doesn’t slow you down. But there will be many people who doubt whether it’s actually possible to enjoy an active lifestyle as they hit triple digits. But it is possible if you put the time into laying the groundwork years before.
French cyclist Robert Marchand is one example Lee highlights in his book.
At the age of 67, Marchand decided he would take up his old hobby of cycling—he had done a little of it in his younger years. He was still at it when at the age of 105, he earned a new world record by finishing 22 kilometers in one hour.
To read more about Marchand and to hear more about the hazards of sitting disease, as well as ways to counteract it, read I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years: The Ancient Secret to Longevity, Vitality, and Life Transformation. This one book could change your future health.