Many of us live lives that require excessive amounts of staying seated.
From eating meals to driving around to working during the day, it’s easy to spend most of the day in a seated position.
This sedentary lifestyle – just like its polar opposite, a life of constant standing – can take an incredible toll on our bodies.
Hundreds of pages of research have been done on the effects that too much sitting can have. Here are some of the results:
- Men who were sedentary for more than 23 hours a week had a 64 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than those who were sedentary less than 11 hours a week, according to a 2010 study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
- People who use a computer for 11 hours or more a week, or watch TV for 21 hours or more a week, are more likely to be obese than those who use a computer or watch TV for 5 hours a week or less.
- The risk of metabolic syndrome, the precursor to diabetes, rises in a dose-dependent manner depending on your “screen time” (the amount of time you spend watching TV or using a computer).
- Sitting time is a predictor of weight gain, according to a study of Australian women, even after accounting for calories consumed and leisure time physical activity, such as exercise time.
- An editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine also reported research showing sitting time correlates with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other prevalent chronic health problems.
- Nearly 70 percent of costs associated with health care are due to preventable conditions, and new research confirms that spending long hours sitting down during commuting and working can play a significant role in the development of chronic disease.
In fact, a growing body of evidence suggests that sitting in and of itself is an independent risk factor for poor health and premature death—even if you exercise regularly. Researchers have dubbed this phenomenon the “active couch potato effect.”
So, what can you do to make yourself less susceptible to the conditions that sitting can cause?
Well, that’s an easy answer: get active! Yes, even during the work day.
There are plenty of easy ways to reduce the total amount of time you spend sitting during the day. Even quickly breaking up periods of sitting with a brief walk around the room or a few jumping jacks is a way to decrease your risk factors!
A few tips for sitting less and moving more:
- Park farther away from destinations so you have to walk a little bit longer to get there.
- Instead of sending an email to a co worker, walk over to their desk.
- Schedule hourly stretch breaks so you’re never sitting down for longer than an hour at a time.
- Re-organize your workspace into an active workspace
For more tips, read our next post: How To Be Active While You’re Working.