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Mark Gottschlich

Everyday Wellness: Get off your bum and enjoy a heightened quality of life

One of the fundamental principles by which I live is to live in moderation. This principle’s personal meaning evolved as I aged. During my teen years, it meant trying to find the proper balance between studying and hanging out with friends. Over the next decade, the theme of living in moderation advanced to encompass many aspects of my life — including school, work, nutrition, sleep, exercise, Court Street adventures, etc. What I have found is when I am successful at living in moderation; I am more healthy and happy. On the occasions when I may cross the boundary and test the extremes, it usually has negative effects on my mind and body.

This is relevant to “Everyday Wellness” readers because I recently became aware that there was a glaring aspect of my life that was not in balance and needed to be addressed because such excessiveness results in negative consequences to healthy living. I am referring to the inordinate amount of sitting that you and I do on a daily basis.

We all do it and few do anything to stop it. All of this sitting — be it in a car seat, at a desk, couch or dinner table — adds up and likely even surpasses the amount of time you lay down to sleep on a given day. I am sure we would all get a glare of disapproval and astonishment from our ancestors who were on their feet all day from working hard labor.

The fact is that this sedentary behavior is unhealthy. The worst part is, our bodies try to alert us of the damage we are acquiring by way of subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle twinges of discomfort in our necks and backs, but we largely ignore these aches and pains and attribute them to unavoidable life stressors. To give an analogy, Mama Bear’s porridge is way too hot and yet we continue to sit back (literally) and burn our tongues. The damage is not only reflected in our poor postures but sitting can also negatively impact proper circulation and metabolic functioning, increasing the risk for many diseases including obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

I am not saying that sitting is bad and will eventually kill you, but instead, I want to address yet another one of life’s many things that is best enjoyed in moderation. While trying to reduce one’s daily sitting might sound more daunting of a task than even adding healthy vegetables and fruits to your diet, I think you will find there are small adjustments you can make that are easy and sustainable. My advice: let the porridge cool for a couple minutes, or at least sip it slowly.

While obviously setting aside time to work out or go for a jog are good options, even easier things could be standing up and walking around the room when you are on the phone. Other ideas include standing up every 30 minutes and taking a quick break to do some non-strenuous lunges, squats or even some light stretching. After incorporating these ideas or your own personal ideas, start charting how much less time you are sitting, and every month or so see if you can “one-up” yourself and go for an extra 10 minutes of standing the next month.

The impact of standing and leisurely movement can be profound. For starters, you'll burn more calories, which might lead to weight loss and increased energy. And who knows, maybe after a year or so you will be so focused on seeking a new personal best standing time that you might invest in a standing workstation for your computer. Or even better, your own personal office treadmill! So, take a stand to sitting and decide for yourself if you want to live healthier by standing more.

Mark Gottschlich is a second year medical student at the Ohio University Heritage College of Medicine and a monthly columnist at The Post. Have questions about health and wellness? Email him at; call your physician if you feel excessively tired throughout the day.

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