Weekends for many of us involve just chilling out, watching our favorite shows and a good amount of – plain old sitting. During weekdays we work our behinds off, doing countless things – most of which also involve sitting. And plenty of credible research has it that sitting too much, whether at home or at work, increases the risk of heart attacks and diabetes.
Curiously enough though, there are some people around the world who do the same amount of ‘sitting around’ and as it turns out, they are a picture of good health. If that has left you wondering why, read on.
What Are These People Doing Differently?
A fascinating study published in the journal PNAS, revealed that the hunter-gatherers in many African tribes, were healthier despite spending as much time ‘sitting’, as us. The difference lies in how they sit. Instead of sitting like us, they squat in their rest periods – legs folded and bum held off the ground. Sitting in this posture takes away the health risks that come with sitting too much, keeping these hunter-gatherers healthy.
The Science Behind ‘Active Sitting’
Science has long established that not enough exercise is not healthy. And much of the sugar that we get from food is used up by the large muscles of our legs, when we are active and this helps regulate our overall health. When we spend too much time sitting, these muscles are largely inactive which leaves the sugar in our blood for long periods, allowing it to cause damage.
Many offices the world over, are now trying to get their workforce to sit less, incorporating newer concepts like standing desks. And it looks like we can definitely learn a thing or two from tribes like Hazda, who live off the land and have stayed in the pink, for generations.
These people, who spend large parts of their day sitting around doing nothing, are hardly ever obese, have near-perfect body-fat levels, and show an absence of Type-2 diabetes or heart ailments. In fact, many of them spend even more time sitting, than us.
To understand this better, David Raichlen, a human evolution researcher from the University of Southern California, along with his team spent considerable time with the Hazda. Their study revealed that these hunter-gatherers spent 30% of their inactive time squatting or kneeling, two postures that use a surprisingly large amount of muscle activity, leading to more efficient glucose metabolism.
And not surprisingly, even Yoga recommends active-sitting poses like Vajrasana (the Thunderbolt pose) or Padmasana (the Lotus pose), for heart-health and many other profound health benefits.
So, now we have a very good reason to just ‘sit around’ (the right way though) and stay healthy all the same!