Today, people sit more than ever before. Think about it. You wake up, sit down and read or watch the news while you eat breakfast. You sit in your car on the drive to work. You sit at your desk all day, except when you go somewhere else and sit down at a table for lunch. You come home to sit for dinner, sit in front of the TV… it’s a whole lot of sitting.
Even if you get in regular exercise each week, that doesn’t change the fact that most of your day is spent sitting. Researchers have studied the effects of modern society where “people move less and sit more.” What have they found?
For starters, “during the past 20 years, total screen time (ie, using computers, watching television, playing video games) has increased dramatically.” Screens, in general, require that you sit in front of them. Sure, some people have standing desks. But even so, you’re likely to spend a lot of time sitting in front of desks, tables, and screens.
What does all that sitting accomplish? The same researchers say that “evidence has emerged identifying habitual sedentary behavior (prolonged sitting) as a novel risk factor for cardiometabolic disease and all-cause mortality, independent of time spent in exercise.” So yes, sitting all day will mess up your weight loss goals and make it harder to build lean muscle.
All around, it’s bad news.
The researchers recommend that doctors encourage their patients to get active.
“Parents still tell their children to get off the sofa and go out and play. Recent evidence is compelling that adults too need similar advice from their physicians. Patients need to get out of their chairs more frequently, both at work and at home. Advising patients to reduce prolonged sitting can be readily combined with current recommendations on exercise and weight management.”
So what can you do to break up your sedentary lifestyle and get active? Try these 4 tips.
You may be chained to your desk all day at work. But you can find a few moments to get up and stretch throughout the day.
Why not set an alarm on your phone to go off every hour? When it does, stand up for 5 minutes, take a quick walk around the office, or do some stretches at your desk. It’s a great way to break up the mundane day at work and get moving.
How many emails do you send or phone calls do you make to co-workers that are just a few feet away in your office? What if, instead, you got up and walked over to them?
If you find a like minded co-worker, invite them to an Aaron Sorkin inspired walk & talk session. You’ll both get the benefits of moving around instead of just sitting and typing.
This works whether you’re at home or work. Why not get up and walk around while you’re on the phone? You don’t have to just sit and jabber. You can walk around the house - or better get, go outside and take a stroll through the yard or around the block.
These few minutes of walking help mix up your day and keep you from more sitting.
It seems that so many modern problems with sitting and staring at screens started with the TV. Subvert the lazy effect of the boob-tube by stretching or doing some simple exercises while you watch TV.
This doesn’t have to be a full blown exercise session. Just do some light stretching while you stand. Or do a few squats, knee raises, and lunges. You might be surprised by how active you can get during a 30-minute or 1-hour program.
You don’t necessarily have to apply all of these tips. But even making just one work for you can do wonders for your health.
Sitting is no good for your fitness or long term wellness. So break up your day and find small ways to get active. You’ll enjoy the benefits now and in the long run.