In the past year, there have been several articles from high-profile newspapers and news stations regarding the perils of sitting for long periods of time. As college students who spend most of their days sitting in the classroom or doing homework, these new studies should catch our attention.
“I have a night class that meets from 6 to 9,” said Jakayla Porter, senior. “Classes like that one can be extremely hard to concentrate in when the class is halfway over and we have not received a break.”
Several hours of sitting is not simply uncomfortable for your body. Articles from The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN and others have referenced scientific research that suggests perpetual sitting can lead to organ damage, muscle degeneration, slowing of brain function and development of diseases such as cancer and Type 2 diabetes.
“The problem is that many of us are required to sit for even longer periods during the evening to complete our homework,” said Jewelia Long, sophomore. “By the end of a long day of classes and homework, students aren’t motivated to do anything but relax and go to sleep.”
The sitting epidemic doesn’t have to be one, however.
“Get some exercise,” said Long. “Whether it’s 20 minutes of cardio a day or running several laps around campus, any type of movement that requires you to stand can help prevent health problems.”
Despite the headline from CNN that suggest that “Sitting will kill you, even if you exercise,” both students feel as if simple actions can help stop the sitting epidemic from affecting us. Another solution may be as easy as asking your professor for a break.
“Many professors–at least the ones I have had–give us breaks during our two- to three-hour classes,” said Porter. “My class that runs for three hours has a break for dinner; this gives us a chance to move around and be ready to concentrate for the latter half of class.”
If you have professors who are unwilling to give a break because of time constraints, take matters into your own hands. According to The Washington Post, sitting up straight with your feet flat on the floor can help you avoid back and neck problems. Even if a professor is not consenting to giving the whole class a break, most are understanding if one needs to step out for a moment or two to regain concentration and stretch.
Regardless of whether or not you agree with the new studies, taking a break by moving around can make you feel refreshed and more focused. So, next time you find yourself not comprehending what you are reading and/or writing, stand up and walk.