What are you doing right now? You’re probably engaged in a highly dangerous activity: Sitting!
If you’re like the average American, you sit at breakfast, you sit in the car, you sit in class or the office, you sit at lunch, you sit at dinner and you sit in front of the television—for a total of 14.5 hours every day!
“This is your body on chairs: Electrical activity in the muscles drops—‘the muscles go as silent as those of a dead horse,’ … leading to a cascade of harmful metabolic effects. Your calorie-burning rate immediately plunges to about one per minute, a third of what it would be if you got up and walked. Insulin effectiveness drops within a single day, and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes rises. So does the risk of being obese. The enzymes responsible for breaking down lipids and triglycerides—for ‘vacuuming up fat out of the bloodstream’ … plunge, which in turn causes the levels of good (hdl) cholesterol to fall” (“Is Sitting a Lethal Activity?” New York Times, April 14, 2011).
Why is sitting so harmful? When you don’t use your muscles, they don’t contract. When muscles don’t contract, they don’t use as much fuel (blood sugar). Extra blood sugar accumulates in your bloodstream, which boosts your risk for diabetes and other diseases. Sitting also squishes your organs together so they don’t function as well.
That Times article cited a study where researchers looked at 14 young, fit, thin volunteers. After only 24 hours of being sedentary, their bodies’ ability to uptake glucose dropped 40 percent. Sitting also leads to back soreness, constipation and other problems.
Gretchen Reynolds, another New York Times writer, highlighted another study on the effects of sitting: “[T]hose who sat the most had a 112 percent increase in their relative risk of developing diabetes; a 147 percent increase in their risk for cardiovascular disease; and a 49 percent greater risk of dying prematurely—even if they regularly exercised” (The First 20 Minutes; emphasis added).
God made us to move. Physically, He designed our bodies to walk, lift, climb, run, jump, work. Even mentally and spiritually, God wants us to be active! Stagnating always causes problems.
So many people don’t want to think or work—they just want to sit! Sit in class; sit on the job, if they can; sit on the couch and zone out. The average American somehow manages to sit and watch nearly seven hours of tv every day. He is letting his body and his mind just shut down. Mayo Clinic researcher Dr. James Levine believes that inertia “sickens more than just our body,” it sickens our mind (op. cit.).
Just as our human nature wants to take it easy and have a seat physically, it also tends to pull us in that direction mentally and spiritually. God expects us to fight that tendency! Otherwise, we’ll suffer the mental and spiritual corollaries of those negative physical effects of the sluggish, sit-on-your-rear lifestyle.
The Christian life is one of driving yourself, challenging yourself, remaining active in personal development, improvement, study, education.
Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
“He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame” (Proverbs 10:5). Young people: Keep busy. Don’t limit yourself to a spoon-fed education—handouts, worksheets, grades, teachers—seven hours a day, five days a week, from August to May. Gather experiences and education to keep active. Set goals, plan and go after your own life-long education.
The same is true of those of us no longer in school. We have to set our own curriculum to ensure we’re still stimulating our minds! Be active in study. Digest high-quality books—even lectures. (It’s amazing what education is available on the Internet and in your local community—much of it for free.) Exploit contacts. Travel. Most important, think about what you hear and read. Keep active in order to avoid the mental equivalents of diabetes, disease and obesity!
“Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper” (Proverbs 13:4; New Living Translation). “[S]uccess is accomplishment. It is doing,” educator Herbert W. Armstrong wrote. “They say any old dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a live one to swim up. An inactive person will not accomplish. Accomplishment is doing. … The fourth success law, then, is drive! Half-hearted effort might carry one a little way toward his goal, but it will never get him far enough to reach it” (The Seven Laws of Success).
How much drive do you have? How do you use your hours outside of work or school? How much “me time” do you reward yourself with to relax and do nothing? Are you physically and mentally sitting your life away?
Push yourself forward! If you just sit around and allow your mind and body to shut down, you are basically just dying slowly—physically, mentally and spiritually. Sitting is lethal! Stagnating and wasting your time is lethal. Be diligent! Don’t be a dead horse or an old dead fish. Get up and do!
God wants all of us to be “redeeming the time, for the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). He made us to move. Get active—physically, mentally and spiritually! ▪