Digidisease – The ‘Sedentary Syndrome’

 

Why movement is the key to fighting the biggest public health problems in our world.

Technology. It’s quite simply amazing and I have to admit it has got me hooked. It is such a great tool, a communication channel like no other and the ‘digital’ age is fast moving, becoming crucial to the way we communicate, do business and socialise.

Like it or not it has changed things forever. Something I dare say would be deemed as witchcraft only a few decades ago!  Remember how primitive the ZX spectrum 128k was or the Atari Commodore personal computers?

OK may be I am taking that a little too far, but you catch my drift. Technology, the internet, the instant chats we can have through social media amaze me. I no longer have to get up and go to my colleague’s desk on the next floor. In fact the only time I move at work is to go to the toilet most days. Sound familiar?

Why go to the effort to walk to the shop when you can go online and purchase all your food. Even better you order more to accommodate those times when you are missing something from the cupboard or fridge and in turn eat more, move less and so on.

With new technologies come new habits. Technology is fast, it thrives on providing instant results and suddenly it makes us impatient. We want fast results in our consumer driven society that spills into our personal lives. Our goals become unrealistic as we battle time and resort to ridiculous diets, or 5000 crunches a day.

But what makes us like this? We know that a bad lifestyle has repercussions far from just being or feeling fat and overweight. There is a whole plethora of nasty health conditions out there related to the way we live our lives. Physical and mental conditions, social problems and diseases. I don’t need to list them I am sure most reading this know them off by heart.

But what about the disease preceding the disease? By this I mean ‘digidisease’. Too much of a good thing becomes bad – the fundamental principle of eating too much, exercising too much, spending too much – whatever you apply it too really. Is this an actual condition? Well no not really I have just coined it – but it is a habit. And as a habit I am going to call it ‘digidisease’.

So what is it? I think you may know. It is the easy way out, our digital world is no doubt fascinating and has so many benefits. But it has forgot the fundamental principles that make us human – the back to basics way. That’s doesn’t mean I think we should live in caves again and walk 15 miles to hunt a mammoth – let’s be honest Tesco is safer and easier (but every little helps) . But it may mean thinking a little like a ‘cave person’ and remembering that every little bit of movement helps!

So let’s delve into our roots. We have evolved and we are constantly changing as a species. We still (for the moment) have arms and legs – use them. I don’t want this to sound patronising, but we were built to move. It is something ‘digidisease’ deprives us of. Digidisease by no means forces us to be sedentary but makes it a highly attractive option. Rest is good right – but all the time?

Couch-potato

Digidisease makes us forget the benefits of moving, tricking us into thinking resting is what we need. Remember the previous paragraph – too much of a good thing becomes bad? So resting too much = bad?

Digidisease is quite a sneaky habit really. We need to wise up and realise its potential, but also its limitations, and what that means for us and our health. Yes it’s convenient and great to surf the net, but balance it out, make sure movement is in there somewhere. At work you should aim to move every 30 minutes – check out the latest research NHS STATS

If you let digidisease take a hold you could potentially have a lot to look forward to. According to research conducted by Loughborough University people who sat the longest had an increased risk of;

  • 112% increase in risk of diabetes
  • 147% increase in cardiovascular events
  • 90% increase in death caused by cardiovascular events
  • 49% increase in death from any cause

I bet that got you thinking. Even more surprisingly even if you exercise in the day and then sit the rest of the time you are still at risk. The key advice is to move regularly – it is what we are designed to do and what digidisease stops us from doing.

So now we have a diagnosis what is the treatment for digidisease? Well the answer quite simply at this stage is for the most of us walking. Yes that simple. The dose is 5 times a day, of 5 minutes, before or after food. Aim to increase this but just get moving to start with. You should take walking with plenty of water and include a lunch time stroll, taking the stairs instead of the lift and doing everything opposite to what digidisease offers you.

So in reality this means you should aim to move in your day, whether at work, home or in leisure time. Be aware that sitting for prolonged periods is not good. Remember your body is designed to move. Spend 9 minutes 18 seconds out of your day to watch this video called 23 and a half hours about inactivity and dosage levels of exercise required

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But don’t forget, the internet is fun. Technology is essential to work and an integral part of our lives. Schedule technology in around your active lifestyle and shift the balance of priority in favour of movement. Prioritise movement, don’t think gym, high intensity exercise just see movement as your regular dose of what is quite simply an amazing cure for digidisease. That way digidisease becomes ‘digidantastic’ . Use it but don’t abuse it.

Andrew Picken

Twitter @handywriter4u

andy@handywriter.co.uk

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