Breaking news! In case you haven’t heard, sitting is the new smoking. People who sit for the majority of the day have just about as high of a risk of heart attack as those who smoke. Wow. And these days, almost everyone (unfortunately) has a sedentary lifestyle. Even if you exercise daily, chances are you sit while commuting to and from work, at your desk, in class, or while spending time with your family. With all of this sitting around, it’s no wonder physicians and scientists alike have deemed what is now called the sitting disease – obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, even cancer. Bottom line: sitting for extended periods of time is very detrimental to our health.
On average, Americans sit for over seven hours each and every day. This includes time spent commuting, time spent sitting at work or in class, and home time. That is over half of your wake time spent on your derriere! With that much sit time, we increase our risk of death by about 50%. In addition, there is about a 125% increase risk for heart related issues, including chest pains, and even heart attack.
Here’s the scary part, spending a couple hours at the gym during the week unfortunately doesn’t do much to offset the amount of time spent sitting throughout the week. The key to lower your risk of sitting disease is to move more throughout your day. Most employees believe they would be more productive if they had the ability to work on their feet and the majority of U.S. office workers agree that they wish they didn’t spend the majority of their work hours sitting. While there are always special circumstances that may not allow everyone to move during their day, we have quite a few suggestions to get you up and on your feet just a bit more throughout the day, lowering your risk for all of those unwanted health issues.
Standing just a tad more throughout your day can help improve posture, improve circulation, and increase muscle tone. Have you heard the saying, “use it or lose it?” It’s true. Use your muscles (by standing up and/or moving around), or lose them.
Often times, the biggest thing holding us back from optimal health is ourselves. Many of us feel guilty taking a break, fearing that our bosses, coworkers, and peers may think we are slacking or not using our time efficiently. The truth is, you can do more for others after you’ve taken the time to take care of yourself, first. When you’re taking care of yourself and your health, you’re able to put more energy into the tasks you need to complete for work, for your family, and so on. So don’t feel guilty, take care of yourself just as much as you take care of business and others!
- Try standing up while talking on the phone or during your lunch break.
- Suggest a walking meeting to your coworkers, rather than gathering around a conference room table to sit.
- Does your company allow short breaks throughout the work day? Take full advantage of them by walking laps around the building, and return to work more energized, refreshed, and productive. Ask your cube-mates and coworkers to join you – who knows, you may end up starting a walking club!
- When you need to use the restroom or get a drink of water, head up or down stairs to another floor to do your deed.
There are also the shorter, simpler ways of adding movement into your day that you’ve probably heard before like;
- park your car far away from your destination or walk to a coworker’s desk instead of calling or emailing them.
- Standing up at your desk or work station to complete a few stretches twice a day can also help improve posture, circulation, and focus. Stretch all of your major muscle groups by rolling your shoulders, neck, and wrists; stretch your hamstrings by reaching down towards your toes, and open through your tight hip flexors by holding a static lunge on each side.
Don’t worry about looking goofy – your coworkers or classmates will be jealous when they see how much more efficient, energetic, and fit you are!