|Even if you are a healthy, young person, there is one activity that we spend most of the day doing that is as dangerous to our health as cancer, obesity and heart disease. Wondering what it is? You are probably doing it right now as you read this blog.
Perhaps you have heard the claim that “sitting is the new smoking” (Huffington Post) and thought it was an over exaggeration. Think for a moment about how much time you spend sitting throughout your day.
We sit to relax, we sit for meals, we sit while we commute to work. Many of us sit in meetings or in front of a computer during the workday, and then sit while we watch TV, read or surf the Internet at night. The average person sits over 10 hours a day. The World Health Organization estimates that 95 percent of the world’s adult population is inactive. Combine that with decreased mobility that sometimes accompanies aging, it is no wonder that sitting is slowly killing us.
Consider these findings:
- According to The Washington Post, prolonged sitting puts us at a significantly higher risk of heart disease, obesity, cancer, depression, and joint and muscle problems.
- Metabolism slows down 90 percent after 30 minutes of sitting, and muscles in the lower body turn off
- After two hours, good cholesterol drops 20 percent
- In a study of people age 50-71 across eight to 10 years, (details here) those who sit the most and move the least had more than three times the risk of difficulty walking at the end of the study. Some could not walk at all.
Fortunately, you can break the sitting-cycle by incorporating a few new habits and routines into your life.
Begin by making it a goal to stand two out of every eight hours of your workday.
Here are a few easy suggestions:
- Take phone calls standing up
- Instead of gathering in the board room, hold standing or walking meetings
- Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of sending him or her an email
- Bypass the elevator and take the stairs
- Take a lunch break
- Make taking a walk a part of your every day routine – even if it’s just 20 minutes per day
- Program your watch or set a timer to alert you every 30 minutes to get up and move
- Explore standing desk options
Small changes such as these can make a big impact over time. If you are worried that the interruption of taking regular breaks will impact your ability to get things done, don’t be. Studies (Washington Post) have shown that health improved and productivity increased by 15 percent when people stood or moved throughout the day.
If you’d like to learn more about the impact of sitting and the effect it is having on our health, please read the resources cited in this blog. The amount of time we spend sitting throughout the day is in our control. So I encourage you to take charge of your health — get out of your chair and get moving.
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