The negative impacts of excessive sitting have been well documented in recent months. And the findings are a little bit scary for someone like me who spends more than a few hours a day on my butt!
A raft of personal health problems have been linked to ‘sitting disease’ such as obesity, heart problems, high blood pressure, metabolic problems, depression and even cancer. It’s sobering stuff.
One TED speaker said that too much time spent sitting was like the ‘smoking of our generation’. In 2011, Dr James Levine of the Mayo clinic told the New York Times that “sitting is a lethal activity”.
Our bodies are designed to move, but if we have a desk job, or do any other work that involves excessive sitting it can be a challenge to get off our backsides. The fact is – if we don’t, we could be seriously impacting on our life expectancy, and setting ourselves up for health issues later on.
You might think that an hour at the gym, or 30 minute run or walk during the day will make up for all those hours of sitting. But to truly mitigate the negative impacts, it’s critical to break up the long stretches of sitting with more regular movements.
Yep people. We’re going to have to form some new habits. As Bob Marley said, we’ve got to ‘Get up, stand up’.
But making these critical changes doesn’t have to be too hard. Just five minutes of movement every hour or so of sitting can make a huge difference. I’ve started setting the alarm on my phone to remind me it’s time to have a break.
And remember – these tips apply equally to television watching or gaming. Why not do some exercises during the ad break or between games?
Here are 5 easy ways you can get that body moving!
1. FIVE MINUTE DANCE PARTY
This is my favourite way to break the sitting monotony. Put on a couple of good dance tracks. Get up out of the chair and shake that booty! Ok I work from home – so there is no one to see my crazy dance moves or listen to Donna Summer blaring out of the computer. If you’re working in an office this might be a little tricky – unless you can convince your colleagues to join in. But it’s super fun – and good for you too!
Make better use of that 15 minute coffee break. Instead of more sitting – go for a quick walk instead – it could be around the block, around the park, or even up and down the stairs if you can’t escape the office. You could even take your coffee (and a coworker) with you!
Again – this may be more suited to people who work from home – but if you have somewhere you can put a yoga mat down for five or 10 minutes and S-T-R-E-T-C-H it out, you will notice an instant benefit to your mind as well as your body. I have my mat out permanently during the day which reminds me to get on it! Even if you don’t have a mat, or don’t want to take one to work – it’s pretty easy to do a few standing stretches beside your desk.
4. WEIGHTS, SQUATS AND LUNGES
Squats and lunges are great exercises for getting the circulation flowing and you can do them ANYWHERE. Do a few sets of each, and if you have some light weights hold onto them at the same time. You can also use the weight to give your arms a bit of a workout.
5. STAND UP WHILE YOU’RE ON THE PHONE – OR IF YOU CAN – WHILE YOU’RE WORKING
With a cordless or mobile phone there is no reason why you can’t wander around when you are taking or making some of your calls during your day. It may also be worth considering a standing desk or workstation if that’s practical. I don’t have one – but sometimes write a story, or do emails etc on my laptop while standing at the bench. I also usually eat my lunch standing at the bench while having a quick flick through the newspaper to give my sitting bones a break!
I’m sure you can come up with lots of other ideas. The key is to do SOMETHING regularly – whatever that is. The time is now to STAND UP FOR YOUR HEALTH!