By Renee’ Fulkerson
How Does Too Much Time sitting Damage Our Ocean’s Reefs (fragile underwater ecosystems)?
You might be thinking, what does sitting in a chair haft to do with an ocean’s reefs? I would be thinking the same thing if I had not made the connection personally. The last time I was out snorkeling at my favorite beach. Just one of a few beaches on the North Shore of Kauai, having had limited to no access for over a year. Because of a devastating mudslide. And during that time of recovery, animal and plant life were present and growing. At a rate locals had not seen in many years. The smiles it brought to their faces as they talked story. They saw turtles come back to nest on the beaches. They had not done that for as long as they could remember. They shared their gratitude for all the fish coming back to the reefs.
A little back story:
In April of 2018, Kauai received 50 inches of rain in 24 hours that devastated the island. The north shore communities of Wainiha and Haena were isolated from the rest of the island. Due to countless mudslides that covered the only two-lane road in or out of these communities. It took over a year to repair the road to a safety standard that would allow all non-Wainiha and Haena residents to re-enter the area.
That happened to be the time when I began my regular snorkeling adventures! During this time, I continued teaching and practicing YogAlign – pain-free yoga from your inner core. I began to realize how my movements in the water reflected my postures in my practice. Breathing through the snorkel replicated the YogAlign SIP breath. And similar to YogAlign, the activity of snorkeling required full-body engagement and global body perception. The primary muscle groups needed to engage in snorkeling are the Hip flexors, hamstrings, upper and lower abdominal’s, quads, and gluteal muscles. A fair amount of flexibility in the ankle region and the ability to point the toes like a dancer is necessary (if you prefer to avoid leg and foot cramps). A strong core (abdominal, Oblique, and back muscles) helps to create a stable platform. And allows your legs to kick and balances your front and back leg strength.
Here is where the sitting in a chair comes in as none of the core muscle groups are engaged during sitting – it is quite the opposite. (the average American spends 7.7 hours a day sitting)
Take an average person who sits 7.7 hours a day in a chair put them out in the ocean snorkeling. Chances are they and the ocean reefs (fragile underwater ecosystem) are going to suffer.
Why? Because they would be expecting their bodies to perform in a way it was not capable. The primary muscle groups they need to fire when they are snorkeling have amnesia. Why? Because they are sitting in chairs all of the time. The flexibility in their ankles and the ability to point their toes would be limited. Due to the shortening and tightening of the front line while sitting. Their core would be void-creating, an unstable platform for their legs to kick. Thus, creating an imbalance between the back and front leg muscles.
How does all of this affect the ocean’s reefs (fragile underwater ecosystems)?
On my last snorkeling adventure, I realized I had gained greater endurance, strength, and stamina (all supported by my regular YogAlign practice). When I looked all around me, as far as my eyes could see, people were STANDING ON THE REEFS! Why were they standing on the reefs? I swam up and said do you realize you are standing on a fragile underwater ecosystem. A system that has had a year’s gift to repair itself from the endless years of damage it has received? The answer was I have not snorkeled in years. I became too tired and needed to rest on the reef. Another gentleman responded he got a foot cramp and needed to rest and rub his foot out on the reef. I noticed one gal was having difficulty breathing (and yes, I asked). She needed to rest on the reef before she could get back to the shore. The reef had become a resting spot to rub and recover. Much like a park bench, you could rest on it during your walk.
At that moment, I realized the consequences of our growing sedentary lifestyles. I made the connection how too much time sitting can damage our ocean’s reefs. I vowed to continue to do my part by staying active and leading a healthy lifestyle. And talk story with fellow snorkelers about how priceless these fragile ecosystems are. I hope you will too! It is never to late to start protecting the islands precious and sacred resources.