Did you know one of the very basic activities you do every day may be ruining your health? Sitting has been linked to many health conditions to the point that is likened to the negative impact of the smoking epidemic. Yikes! How can sitting be as bad for you as smoking?
Human bodies are meant to be upright. That’s why we evolved into bipedal beings – having two feet. Our organs and bodily systems, especially our cardiovascular system, circulatory system and digestive system, all rely on us spending time standing upright. Yet most of us spend hours a day sitting. People with desk jobs often spend 8 to 12 hours sitting, which is defined as prolonged sitting or high levels of sitting and the most deleterious to your health. But even those who don’t work behind a desk may be sitting too frequently when dining, watching TV or driving in a car.
Major health problems can stem from prolonged sitting. The World Health Organization points to physical inactivity, aka sitting, as the fourth leading risk factor of death. Kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes and cancer are among the serious conditions that can, in part, arise from sitting too much. Minor issues from high levels of sitting include joint stiffness, poor circulation, lack of energy and digestive distress, to name a few.
Prolonged sitting even affects our mental capabilities and our emotional health, and may trigger an increased appetite. Even those who exercise regularly cannot escape the negative effects of sitting although the impact is lessened by periods of physical activity.
So how do you curb the negative effects of sitting? Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- If you work at a desk, take frequent breaks. Walk to the break room, visit a co-worker and remain standing while you chat, do a lap around your building. Whatever it takes, get your body moving upright.
- Invest in a standing desk that allows you to work in an upright position. Be sure to place a mat or rug beneath your feet for support.
- Change your sedentary meetings to walking meetings. Chances are your associates will appreciate the movement too.
- Always stand when presenting during a meeting.
- Help change the culture in your workplace to encourage more standing. If everyone’s doing it, you’ll feel inclined to do it too.
At Home and Beyond:
- Make a point to stand up while you’re doing activities. Folding laundry and other household chores can be done standing. Enjoying cocktails with a friend can include standing at the bar rather than sitting at a table. The more you stand, the better you’ll be. And you burn more calories too!
- While watching TV, use commercial time to get moving. Do three laps around your room before returning to your show.
- If you’re eating alone, stand while you eat. Yes, if your mother were there she may scold your bad manners. But then again, she should want what’s best for your health and that’s standing.
- When driving or flying long distances, take standing and walking breaks. Stretch and do simple calisthenics to get your blood flowing too.
- Record your standing time daily and set goals to achieve. You’ll be more likely to stand for longer if you’re reaching for a goal.
Avoid the negative effects of sitting by employing these tips for a more upright and healthier lifestyle!