Your CHAIR and #COVID19

Is Your Chair Killing You?

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Henry David Thoreau once shared that he had three chairs in his home, “…one for solitude, two for friendship, and three for society.” Doesn’t that provide you with remarkable insight into the value of a chair?  Chairs provide comfort, stability, relaxation, style and for Thoreau, “…solitude, friendship and society.” 

During this time of emotionally charged home quarantine, I’m concerned that a chair for many may also pose a corner of isolation, inactivity and ultimate gloominess. You see, as Benjamin Franklin observed, “The discontented man finds no easy chair.”

And what do we do in a chair? We die. Slowly, but that’s what the sitting disease is all about. The longer you sit, the shorter your lifespan. LifeSpan defines the “sitting disease” as a “term used to describe people who don’t engage in enough physical activity to be healthy.” Our bodies are designed to move…not to sit. So mindfully use this at home time to stand more, sit less, move more. 

According to a Mayo Clinic report, “An analysis of 13 studies of sitting time and activity levels found that those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking.” 

And according to Verywell Health, “Research has shown that sitting for as little as 30 minutes at a time without standing up or otherwise engaging in physical activity causes the beginning of a cascade of events throughout the body, a chain reaction that includes poor circulation, inflammation, and endothelial dysfunction  (dysfunction of the lining of the blood vessels). This translates, in the longer run, into higher rates of cardiovascular disease, overweight and obesity, and possibly even cancer.” Not too good when you want to boost your immunity against coronavirus.

While Jon Kabat-Zinn in his 2005 book, Wherever You Go, There You Are, noted that sitting properly can lead to improved meditation and dignity, for far too many, sitting in that chair too long may lead to lying down for a long time. Like forever.  

I have another way, a healthier way, of using your chair, or should I say, C.H.A.I.R. Yeah, I know, another Mantell acronym. Here it is:

C stands for a deeply felt Commitment to very specific goals. You see your goal, you become aware of why you’re choosing it. Commitments that are consistent and comfortable last. What commitments do you have to improve yourself during your home quarantine? Learn more? How about thinking better to eat better to move better to sleep better to live better? How’s that for a healthy commitment during COVID19?

H is for Healthier foods. DIEt is a word I never use for the obvious reason that should jump off the page at you, and DIEt always means weight gain, which is not wise for its obvious link to coronavirus.

A is for daily Activity. Aim for that invented 10,000 steps a day, though 4,000 works just fine. One expert makes it simple – walk about 2,000 steps more than you ordinarily do. Even raking leaves, vacuuming, taking the stairs, walking the dog, count—it’s NEAT, “non-exercise activity thermogenesis.” So cut down on those video games and TV while increasing your home bound enjoyable physical activities, add in some strength and flexibility movements, and you won’t even miss your gym.

I is Inner motivation and Inspiration—you’d be wise to have your why and it’s best if it’s personally meaningful to you. Why do you want to emerge healthier from home quarantine? What value do you see in building in health promoting activities while home? 

R is for a Realistic set of achievable, Rewardable goals. You need something very specific that you are targeting, like you want to be entirely off blood pressure medication, or you want to fit into your high school jeans, not just “lose some weight” or “get healthy,” or “just make it through this quarantine.” Carefully craft some very specific daily goals to increase your activity, especially your natural activity. The most realistic goal to remind you to get out of that chair and into a healthier C.H.A.I.R. might be my general mantra, “Be active. Not too much. Everyday.”

Ok, now that you’ve read this, stand up and go for a targeted walk.

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