Sitting still is more dangerous than traveling

Man asleep at desk.

Man asleep at work. Photo: cell105 / Flickr

In my post last week, I talked about whether it’s safe to travel now.  As a bit of a follow-up, I’ll talk about when it’s dangerous to sit still for too long: always.

Have you ever been stuck in class or at the office and felt like you were dying inside?  It might not just be your mind playing tricks on you.  The New York Times had an alarming article titled, Is sitting a lethal activity? This quote by a doctor summed it up nicely:

“Go into cubeland in a tightly controlled corporate environment and you immediately sense that there is a malaise about being tied behind a computer screen seated all day,” he said. “The soul of the nation is sapped, and now it’s time for the soul of the nation to rise.”

Whether you’ve traveled or not, many of us can relate to that dread of being at a desk job.  The computer monitor attacks your eyes, the fluorescent lights can harm your skin, and fat builds up in your body from your lack of movement.  That doesn’t even cover stress, which is a leading cause of a whole host of physical and mental problems.

On the flip side, travel is much more active.  You’re walking to sights, you’re flexing brain muscles by navigating a new place, you’re carrying your backpack, etc.  You’re 100% engaged, physically and mentally.  When I was traveling, I gained a trim figure without seemingly exercising.  But I actually was working out, by doing the day-to-day tasks of being on the road.

Have you ever come back from a trip in better shape than when you left?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Posted by | Comments (9)  | April 22, 2011
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind

9 Responses to “Sitting still is more dangerous than traveling”

  1. jo-z Says:

    It doesn’t matter what country I live in that’s not the USA – Spain, Argentina, Ecuador or, now, Japan. I’ve always lost about 10 pounds by the time my stay was through. I walk more and eat less. The reverse culture of going home and seeing the huge portion sizes (and huge people) always stuns me.

  2. Stephen Says:

    Agreed jo-z. I’m always really surprised when I get into the airport I’m flying into and see the size of people around me. And inevitably, by the time I’ve left the States again, I’ve put on weight and have to work it off when I get back to Asia!

  3. Hugh Says:

    I read that NYT article and couldn’t agree more.

    My wife and I ALWAYS lose weight when we travel, despite drinking lots of wine and indulging in great foods. I echo the other two comments – we walk a ton, do active things, do NOT sit at desks for 10 hours per day, and eat smaller portions of foods that are natural, not processed.

    The portion sizes and the high proportion of highly-processed foods here in the States is astounding. We tend to think it’s normal until we travel abroad. The reverse culture shock is amazing.

  4. Jeremy Says:

    Like Bruce Lee would say, “Running water never goes stale.” The more we move the better we feel. The human body is built to move! Not to sit all day long. This article I found quite informative and motivational:

  5. David Says:

    I so agree, travel is when I am really alive and firing – I try to get out of cubicle land as often as possible. I wonder about the future of offices once we have the bandwidth to work in interconnected networks. And I always lose weight when I am travelling.

  6. Alexplorer Says:

    This is the most true post of all time thanks for sharing this with the world!! In 2008 I quit my 9-5 cube sitting for a software company and went traveling in Thailand… No joke I lost nearly 30 pounds from just constant activity and mostly eating rice/meat/vegetables. Unfortunately I’m back now in the same prison, I mean cube (haha), but I plan on traveling again very soon to Panama. If you’re interested in my adventures follow me on