A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise

Chapter 7: Training for Mobility 148 Introduction It is no secret that Americans have become more sedentary in recent years (Owens et al., 2010). Vallance et al. (2018) found that the average American adult spends 9 hours per day sitting, with older adults spending 10 hours or more sitting. Numerous improvements in technology have decreased the amount of manual labor required for performing both work- and leisure-related tasks. Even items such as skateboards, which have the potential for expending some physical exertion, have become motorized thereby reducing or eliminating the potential exercise-related benefits. As a result of this sedentary shift, some fitness advocates are promoting that being sedentary, specifically prolonged sitting, is the new smoking. In essence, prolonged sitting shares similar long-term consequences to smoking. Is it true? Does prolonged sitting really elicit the same potential long-term health risks as smoking? According to Vallance et al. (2018), the health-related comparison between smoking and prolonged sitting is not even close. Smoking, by far, possesses a significantly higher risk for certain metabolic disorders and diseases as well as a higher mortality risk. Even so, research suggests that individuals who sit for longer than 7 hours per day have a 10 - 20% increased risk of mortality. Additionally, prolonged sitting increases the risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and depression, decreases aerobic efficiency, and reduces mobility - especially of the hip and lower back. Vallance et al. (2018) reported that at least 60 - 75 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous intensity activity was necessary to fully reduce the mortality risk associated with prolonged sitting. Starrett (2015) recommends individuals get up and stand every 10-15 minutes and allocate at least four minutes of mobility work for every 30 minutes of continuous sitting, in order to avoid the negative health effects of prolonged sitting. Unfortunately, Vallance et al. (2018) also reported that the majority of Americans currently do not attain at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day, thus making the possibility of eliminating the health-related risks associated with prolonged sitting unattainable for most. Collectively these findings provide compelling evidence and rationale for performing regular, if not daily, mobility training. Doing so will not only help to reduce the risk of certain health-related diseases and loss of mobility, but also serve as another opportunity to be good stewards of the body God has given us.