Sitting kills. Its time to stand up!
We know that sitting all day isn’t good for us, but do we really know what it’s doing to our bodies? Let’s find out.
It’s killing us
According to research we all sit too much. It’s estimated that we spend on average, 7.7 hours sitting – that’s about half of our waking hours. Today’s modern lifestyle and use of technology has led to a climb in sedentary activities like sitting at a desk, sitting in the car and sitting watching TV, to name just a few. This inactive way of life also comes with a load of aches, pains and groans.
Slumping over a desk chair and bad posture looking at a screen causes havoc on your body. Neck, shoulder and back pain are just the tip of the iceberg that lead to a number of other physical problems. Sitting is also bad for your hip extensors and hip flexors (both play a vital role in hip movement). Being seated in the sitting position for a length of time weakens your hip extensor and shortens and stiffens your flexors – both of which cause pain and negative long-term side-effects. Additionally, sitting shuts off the electrical activity in your leg muscles. Long periods of sitting also dramatically slows down your body’s ability to process and breakdown fats and sugars. Your heart beats slower and you burn way less calories.
But it doesn’t stop there. Unfortunately all this sitting is edging us closer to the grave. Research done around the globe all points to the same thing: people who sit too much are more likely to have chronic health problems and die prematurely. Studies suggest that the more sitting we do, the weaker our bodies become and our lifespan decreases. Researchers also claim that long periods of sitting increase our risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and metabolic dysfunctions. Even our risk of cancer increases.
And it’s not only physically that this sedentary regime negatively affects us, our brain power suffers too. That drops the longer you sit. When your muscles aren’t moving and pumping fresh blood and oxygen to your brain, your brain function slows just like the rest of your body. So you’re not really as productive – physically or mentally – as you thought you were. Last, but not least, it also leads to increased risk of depression and chronic stress.
Scientists globally agree – the more we sit, the sooner we’ll die.
Enough of the doom, what can you do!!
Its ok, I did my exercise today…or is it?
You think by doing exercise throughout your week you would counteract all the negatives of sitting, but think again. Exercise can’t protect you from the health risks associated with long unbroken periods of sitting. The problem lies in the actual sitting and doing it for a long, continuous span of time. This is when the damage is done. Inactivity shuts down a lot of the good that your workout did. The key here is to keep active during and break up the sitting. The simple act of standing up and stretching can jolt all those ‘paused’ processes – like calorie-burning – back into action. Many studies done on sitting and weight-gain found that those who took more standing breaks, stretches and walks throughout the day had smaller waists and increased fat and sugar metabolism functions.
So what can I do?
While it’s impossible to completely stop sitting – or in some cases if your job demands a great deal of sitting time – you can make a few changes that will have a positive impact on your health.
- Stand up – simply standing up changes things. Make a conscious effort or even set an alarm every 20 minutes to stand up. Ramp it up a little by standing on one leg then alternating.
- Take walking breaks – if you can’t stand up or are a bit self-conscious doing one-leg shifts, then go for a walk. Consider walking to the kitchen to get a glass of water (doubly good for your health) or even walking outside for a quick breather.
- Walking meetings – start a trend in the office and watch how popular it becomes!
- Ramp up your lunch – use your lunch hour to increase blood flow and activity by doing some sort of exercise or activity. Consider finding a Live Life Get Active camp close to you and book yourself into a quick session.
- Set yourself quick activity challenges – for example, during a standing break, do 20 squats or 10 star jumps to get the blood flowing again. Squats and glute exercises are especially good in countering any damage to the hip extensors and flexors.
- Set up your workspace – there are so many more options these days to create an ergonomic workspace. Sitting desks are no longer the only option, there are standing desks, desks that allow you to sit-and-stand and even treadmill desks. Plus if you’re standing for a long time think about investing in an anti-fatigue standing mat, your feet will thank you for the underfoot comfort. Chairs are also developing in leaps and bounds. Ergonomic chairs come in all shapes and sizes and even kneeling chairs are becoming a preferred option for many. Don’t’ forget the tools – the right anti-glare monitor setting and correct positioning, together with ergonomic mouse and keyboards are the cherry on the top.
- Work your fingers – if you have a desk job where you’re typing all day, exercise your fingers. Grab a rubber band and do some stretching-tension workouts; massage your hands, wriggle your wrist (think about carpal tunnel syndrome).
- Reduce TV/screen watching time – instead of sitting down to four hours a night, cut it down to two. Maybe do something ‘active’ during a movie or do a few sit-ups during the advertisements.
- Workplace health assessment – it’s a legal requirement that companies provide a safe and healthy environment for their workers. Ask them to have a professional come in and assess your work spaces and help ergonomically set up the most effective work environment for you.
- Corporate Wellness Program – most companies nowadays run a wellness program. See how your company incorporates wellness into their employees’ everyday life and partner with them to get the best out of it.
It may not always be possible to avoid long-periods of sitting, but we can take action to reduce its impact.
So leave the office, register and come and join us in the park. Stand up… Walk around… Have fun and extend your life.
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