A lot of us agonise over steps taken, or calories burned while forgetting to take into account one major silent killer: the health risks of sitting too much. But just take a moment to think - how many hours a day do you actually spend sitting down?
Keeping our body moving is more important than we realise. Health experts often recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, 75 minutes of medium to vigorous activity or 150 minutes of light activity a week.
The human body hasn’t changed much over the years but the way we live definitely has, and this has had quite a significant impact on our health. While researchers have not found the exactly how this affects our body, they have found significant correlations showing it does affect us.
Sitting for hours on end — at work, in school, in your car and just lounging about at home increases your risk of obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and even an early death. Plus there are more immediate effects brought about by a sedentary lifestyle that you probably feel on a daily basis but don’t associate it with long hours of sitting; low energy, muscle atrophy, reduced mobility in your joints and a wobbly, saggy behind.
One of the common complaints by people who spend most of their time sitting is that they have tight hips and backs. This also results in poor posture, which contributes to other health issues. The good news is there is a lot we can do to help prevent all of the above.
Sit Less, Stand MoreMight sound obvious, but if you’re sitting for hours on end at work try and break it up by standing for a minute or two every 30 minutes. You can set a reminder on your phone or computer for this. Or at least try taking a 15 minute standing break every hour or two.
Did you know it takes 21 days to form a habit? So start your standing breaks right now. Take a walk, stretch a bit and give your eyes a break from the computer screen. Use your coffee or tea breaks to stand and get some walking into your day. Even think about investing in a standing or walking desk.
Correct Your Posture
The way you sit has a significant impact on your posture. If you’re hunching forward, this can put extra stress on your neck and back and cause pain. Every inch you hang your head forward is thought to add at least 10 more pounds of pressure on your spine.
If you often feel tired when sitting, think about your posture. Bad posture compresses your lungs and reduces their capacity which depletes you of energy. This applies whether you’re sitting or standing, so watch your posture even when standing.
You don’t have to sit stiffly upright all the time but shifting your position or moving and stretching your neck and legs every 15 minutes or so will help change where you’re putting pressure on your body.
Just had a meal? Then you need to move!
After a meal, your body experiences a spike in blood sugar. This is increased when you continue to sit for an hour or two afterwards.
But on the contrary, if you spend just 15 minutes after a meal walking or moving, the increase in your blood glucose is reduced by half. After a meal try and walk around, have a bit of a clean up, do the dishes, etc. Not only will this keep your body healthier, it will keep your house cleaner!
We all need to try and exercise regularly, but it’s not enough if you’re spending most of the your day sitting. By adding periods of standing and walking you will help cut the negative impact sitting has on our body and be healthier now and in the future.