How Bad Is Sitting For Your Health?
Studies have conclusively shown that sitting for much of the day is very bad for your health. So bad, in fact, that sitting can be considered the new smoking.
Spending more than 6 hours a day sitting drives up your blood pressure and places you at a greater risk for diabetes, obesity, depression, and even some types of cancer. People who have chronic illnesses see an increase in their symptoms with prolonged bouts of seated inactivity.
From an orthopedic standpoint, sitting tightens your hips, weakens your glutes, and slumps your shoulders. Your posture gets ruined, and you’re likely to get frequent headaches and neck pain.
Between work, driving, and home life, Americans average almost 10 hours on our collective butts every day!
How To Avoid the Dangers of Sitting
Daily activity used to be far more interwoven into our lives: Walk to the neighborhood store, and walk back with the groceries. Hang your clothes on the clothesline. Walk down the hall to talk with a coworker. These days technology allows us to do almost everything from the comfort of a chair – we don’t even have to get up to change the TV channel, or move our arm to roll down the car window.
Without the conveniences of e-mail and other labor-saving technologies, day-to-day lives simply require less movement than they did 50 or 100 years ago. And since even slow walking can double your metabolic rate compared to sitting, you can see how being just a little bit more active during your day can make a huge difference to your long-term health and weight.
Unfortunately, even a regular exercise program can’t counteract the dangers of all the sitting we do. In order to minimize the troubles caused by sitting too much, you must get up and move around – even at a very easy pace – as often as possible, for as long as possible.
It’s pretty easy to limit your time on the couch, but when you make your living sitting at a desk, it’s harder to break the sit-all-day habit.
Even if you don’t want to spring for a treadmill desk (yes, those do exist!), there are plenty of ways to introduce easy, non-sweaty movement into your life. Here are a few:
How to Sit Less At Work
- Take frequent breaks.
As often as possible (at least every hour), get up from your desk and walk somewhere – the restroom, copy machine, water cooler, colleague’s desk – just move! Set an alarm on your cell phone or computer to remind you every 30 or 45 minutes to stand up and stretch.
- Stretch or move in place.
Don’t have anywhere to go, or stuck on the phone? March in place for a few minutes, or stand up and stretch and wiggle while you’re on that conference call.
- Take a meeting on the move.
Walk and talk! It’s not only good for fitness, but fires up creativity and helps reduce stress.
- Ignore elevators and escalators.
Unless you work at the top of a 40-story building, consider elevators and escalators your enemy.
- Send fewer work emails.
Try visiting your co-workers in person every once in a while!
- Walk at lunch.
Take a walk while you eat your sandwich or salad!
- Reality check your movement.
Get a pedometer or a FitBit gizmo, and aim to accumulate 10,000 steps per day.
- Ditch the car whenever possible.
When possible, walk or bike to your destinations. Try parking farther away from your destination and walking part of the way. Get off the subway or bus a few stops early. When running errands, park the car once, then walk back and forth between destinations.
- Do something active before you get home.
We often sit down at work, then we sit in the car, and once home, we sit to eat, then sit on the couch and watch TV! Interrupt the Perma-Sit by swinging by the gym/pool/park on the way home from work.
- Stand up at your workstation whenever possible.
Consider getting a standing desk if you must use a computer or phone for much of the work day.