The chair you’re sitting in was probably invented about 4,500 years ago, some say by the Egyptians since it was found in an Egyptian tomb. But long before that our common ancestors sat on the ground or on a rock. As you can imagine, neither was comfortable, so they probably didn’t sit much. But they also had to forage and wander, so that takes care of any prolong sitting.
In our world, however, they’d have to get used to the idea of chairs made specifically to sit on for hours on end. Office furniture alone is a 14-billion dollar industry, and chairs make up a large portion. Makes sense, because who wants to sit on a rock all day?
For the average paleolithic caveman, sitting past 20 minutes probably wouldn’t feel natural, even if squatting on his haunches for the duration. He’d rather just lie down and rest his head. But anyway, check this out, a recent study showed a link between sitting and dying early.
“Conclusions: These data demonstrate a dose-response association between sitting time and mortality from all causes and CVD, independent of leisure time physical activity. In addition to the promotion of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and a healthy weight, physicians should discourage sitting for extended periods.”
Before you think this is just another no-brainer study, make sure to read closely that the result is “independent of leisure time physical activity.” In other words, even if you’re working out at a gym or are physically active, sitting longer is still associated with early mortality.
I know for many of you office hermits that sitting is part of how you earn a living. What can I say, other than the obvious: get up off your chair more often? It certainly won’t hurt, unless your goal is to die sooner than you’re meant to. And for those of you who sit when you don’t need to, then… you know… sorry.
As for our common ancestors, if they’re not squatting on their haunches to pull meat off a bone at dinner, then they’re lying down and chilling, or they’re walking to hunt and to gather. But sitting in a recliner wasn’t really part of their social norm. So — and this probably sucks for many — perhaps they passed on the anti-sitting gene to us.
If I had to guess: regular blood circulation stimulated from frequent movement — and not just that resulting from only exercise — has an important implication to our overall health and even longevity. You should get up and move around more.