Have you noticed? People in offices, standing at their desks or rolling on exercise balls while they work. What’s happening? They’re standing or rolling because they know the health risks of prolonged sitting.
Here’s a startling fact. If you exercise vigorously for one hour every day, but spend most of your waking hours sitting (e.g., more than six hours), you are at risk for developing a disease that can shorten your life.
Regular fitness isn’t enough if you sit too much during the day. Prolonged sitting can cause heart disease, diabetes, obesity, breast or prostrate cancers. What is worrying is the time spent sitting around the house, at our computers or watching TV. In fact, many people spend more time sitting than sleeping.
How can sitting cause disease?
When you sit for a long time, your circulation and metabolism slow down and electrical activities in your legs shut down. With a slower metabolism, your body doesn’t produce the enzymes to break down fats. Your good cholesterol drops and insulin can’t respond properly.
What can you do?
The human body is designed to move, not sit. Our ancestors hunted and moved around on foot. When they settled, they worked on farms. Over the past century, our sitting time has increased dramatically.
If you do sports or work out regularly, keep it up. However, what is essential is to decrease your level of inactivity outside your fitness hours and find ways to interrupt your sitting time. Here are 9 things you can do:
- If you have a desk job, try a standing desk.
- Alternate between sitting in your office chair and a physio ball.
- Get up early in the morning and go for a 30-45 minute walk.
- Walk or bike to work, if you can.
- At the office, work in bursts of 30-45 minutes. Take regular walking breaks.
- Use stairs, not elevators.
- Go for a walk after lunch and /or after supper.
- Make housework, garden work or cooking a time for you to move.
- Be creative, crank up the music in the house and squeeze in more moving time.
For more information on the health effects of prolonged sitting, click the image above to see an interesting info graphic from Medical Billing and Coding.