April 18, 2011
We've all heard the meditation instruction "just sit," but what if just sitting leads to an early grave? A recent piece at The New York Times explores an emerging field that some call inactivity studies:
Over a lifetime, the unhealthful effects of sitting add up. Alpa Patel, an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, tracked the health of 123,000 Americans between 1992 and 2006. The men in the study who spent six hours or more per day of their leisure time sitting had an overall death rate that was about 20 percent higher than the men who sat for three hours or less. The death rate for women who sat for more than six hours a day was about 40 percent higher. Patel estimates that on average, people who sit too much shave a few years off of their lives.
Yikes! Maybe Buddhist teachers should encourage a little more walking meditation. Although, to be fair, the studies cited in this piece aren't talking about the kind of erect, alert, and important sitting that happens on a meditation cushion. The kind of sitting that kills is the soul-sapping, controlled corporate cubicle sitting that happens behind a computer screen. We should all give that kind of sitting a rest.
Read the rest of "Is Sitting a Lethal Activity?"
Image: "Evil Chair," from the photostream of Dragon2309