Sitting has been dubbed “the new smoking.” You can take action against this preventative disease.
Dance break! Before you even start reading this post, I want to you get up and take a dance break – or at least stand up and stretch. That’s because sitting is literally killing us, and I don’t want that for any one of us!
As our lifestyles have become more sedentary over the last two or three decades, we’ve been doing our bodies a great disservice by sitting for hours at a time.
More time sitting in front of to our computers and other digital devices, including the TV with remote in hand, means we have less need to get up off our keisters for almost anything. The necessity of going to the store has even been diminished. (A friend of a friend once ordered underwear online because she was too busy studying to do laundry!)
But our bodies haven’t adapted to this sedentary lifestyle; we are built to stand and move. When we don’t, our chances for ill health – everything from weight gain, to Type 2 diabetes to heart and kidney disease – significantly increase. Sitting also adversely affects our posture and our mood.
One American Cancer Institute study found that women who were inactive and sat more than six hours a day were 94% more likely to die over the course of the 12-year study than those who exercised and sat less than three hours a day.
Regular exercise isn’t even enough to counteract a lifestyle where you work seated six to 10 hours a day, especially if you then come home to sit another two or three hours on the couch binge watching your favorite program.
In fact, a 2015 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that all this sitting adds up to a much greater likelihood that we will develop a health condition that will kill us prematurely, even if we make time for regular exercise.
Why is sitting so hard on our bodies? One thing that happens when we sit is the lipoprotein lipase, which plays a major role in breaking down fat in the blood stream, becomes deactivated in just the first few minutes after sitting. The lack of this lipoprotein also reduces blood flow, which reduces oxygen dispersal throughout the body. In turn, nerves and muscles get “sleepy” and brain activity is reduced due to less oxygen.
It’s no wonder we feel less productive and less creative after we’ve been sitting a while – our brains need more oxygen.
How to fix this? Stand Up.
Aim for standing up and stretching every 20 minutes, or take a 10-15 minute break from sitting every hour. You can find a number of apps to help remind you to take a break and even lead you through a number of easy stretches to get your blood flowing.
With the advent of standing desks, you can easily stand and work.
A recent study in the American Journal of Public Health even suggests standing desks could be beneficial to kids' well being, helping them maintain a healthy weight by "interrupting" sedentary behavior.
I love my treadmill desk – it’s a great way to meet my fitness goals and my business deadlines!
I also invite business associates on walking or running meetings as a way to squeeze more activity into my day. If you have to have a meeting around the boardroom table, make stretch breaks mandatory for meetings more than a half-hour.
Other easy ways to get up and moving:
Visit a co-worker’s office to ask a question instead of sending an email.
Make time to walk by taking transit, parking further away from the office or walking to lunch instead of ordering in.
Drink more water – it equals more bathroom breaks!
However you get moving, be sure to stand up for your health!