published on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 by email@example.com
Some public health challenges are the result of a kind of time warp. We've talked about this before on The Connection: Modern society changes so fast that in certain ways, the evolution of Homo sapiens lags behind.
For example, most of us spend far more time in a seated position than our ancestors did. Large muscle groups get much less use than our bodies are adapted to expect. As a result, our metabolism slows down, and the risk increases for high cholesterol, high blood glucose, an unhealthy waist size, and other unwanted conditions.
Even if one has a pretty sound exercise program, the data indicates that it may not be sufficient to counteract all the time we spend sitting: at a desk at work, on a couch at home, in the car traveling from one to the other. This information grabs me: I tend to tell myself that a sedentary work life is basically tolerable as long as I take a walk or a run several times a week. That's probably not true.
This may be more of an issue for me than it is for the average pastor, who tends to keep a busy and varied schedule. But the data suggests that pastors, as much as anybody else, could use more physical activity in their lives. (One specific thing I suspect is that many clergy spend a lot of time in the car.)
There are simple ways to address a surfeit of sitting. Some people, at home or at the office, sit on an exercise ball, which requires one to flex and stretch the muscles of the legs and trunk to maintain balance. More and more people are adopting a standing desk for use at the office. Even if those things are impractical, studies suggest there are benefits to pausing at work for just a minute or so per hour, to stand up, stretch, walk in place, do a verse or two of the Hokey-Pokey.
Give some thought to the amount of sitting you do in a typical day, and ways you might incorporate quick refreshing breaks to give your rear end a rest and other body parts a wake-up call.
John James, M.A.
Research Analyst, Clergy Health Initiative