Why Sitting for Long Periods of Time Can Effect Your Health
"Sitting is the new smoking"
Wow. Those are some powerful words. Public health workers have deemed that sitting for a time period greater than 3 hours can actually effect your health. It's something that, I think, we all do without grasping the severity of it. Before we can correct it, let's chat about why it is not great for you.
Did you know that when you sit for long periods of time that your muscles become inactive and your body can not blood glucose at a normal level? This causes metabolic syndrome (which is the inability to manage healthy blood glucose levels), which trickles down to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar levels. This increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and strokes. Also, higher blood sugar levels are also related to an increased risk of certain types of cancer.
So, sitting itself isn't the dangerous part, the danger comes from sitting for too long.
What do we do now?
First, we have to assess when we sit for long periods. I know we all dream of having a 24 hour a day active life, but the truth is - we just do not. Especially for those of us that work at a desk for a good portion of our day. Try to move around in ways that you wouldn't normally do at work. Strive to maintain a NEAT—non-exercise activity thermogenesis state. Move around a bit more, bend down to grab things, reach for things, take the stairs, just do things that you body is capable of doing on a regular basis. These types of movements have been replaced with the help of technology. Dial back on the use of technology to allow yourself to move a bit more. Data has proven that people who work at desk jobs, because of their lack of movement, are two times likely to get cancers such as rectal and color cancers. Yikes!
Here's some suggestions on how to sit less and move around more:
- Every hour, try to move for at least 5-10 minutes. Take the long route to fill up your water, use the restroom, grab something from the printer, etc..
- Try some desk yoga!
- Use a whiteboard that you've hung to the wall to write ideas down. Solely for the fact that you can't sit down to use it and you have to move your arms to write on it.
- Walk over to a coworker instead of emailing, messaging, or slacking.
- Get a standing desk.
- Use a yoga ball as a desk chair.
- Stretch for a few moments every hour.
- Stand up while using the phone and pace around.
There's plenty of things that you can do to promote movement. Set a timer if you need to, I know that is what personally helped me! If you're still struggling, get a fitness tracker watch to help you. That is what they're there for.
Don't be afraid to turn on a bit of music and dance through you day. Who doesn't love shaking it to their favorite song? Just remember to get up to move and stretch and it'll help you in the long run.