Sitting is the New Smoking

 

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You know how your mum always warned you about being a couch potato? And you were aware it was bad news, but never fully understood why? Well, healthcare practitioners are desperately trying to spread the word because sitting all day can kill you. Recent research has inspired a series of revelations that have resulted in some scary sitting statistics: your risk of heart disease is increased by up to 64%, you’re shaving at least SEVEN years from your life, and you’re more at risk of developing cancer and diabetes. Simply put, sitting is killing you. Luckily for you, however, we’ve taken the time to review how you can reverse the negative side effects of your sedentary lifestyle.

Take a stand for your health

If you’re going to wage war against the ravages of sitting, then you need to remember two simple things:

  1. Stand at least once an hour
  2. Get active for at least 30 minutes each day

Now, we’re well aware of the fact that not all of you are actually couch potatoes. The modern work place dictates that employees remain chained to their chairs for upwards of eight hours every day, which can make the fight against sitting a lot harder. However, an Australian study suggests that taking a short standing or walking break an hour can alleviate many of the negative health risks associated with sitting. Which means that making the change towards a less sedentary life isn’t about going to the gym everyday (while working out is positive in its own right, it does little to counteract the effect of long periods of siting). It’s more about creating pockets of moderate activity throughout your day that will give your body a break from sitting.
But what is a moderate activity?
A moderate activity is different from exercise, and actually a lot easier to incorporate into your day, which is a relief for those who don’t always have time to spare to hit the gym. When we recommend that you get active for at least thirty minutes each day, we advise that you can break up the thirty minutes throughout your day to make it easier to handle. Taking a brisk walk around the block, cleaning your house or doing the yard work – in fact anything that gets you out of your chair and moving – counts as moderate activity and they can all have a heap of positive effects on your health.

Alter your behaviour

While we human beings like to think that we’re at the top of the food chain, we are also still just a bunch of animals, which means that we’re prone to picking up habits – especially the bad ones! With the will to change a habit comes the need for commitment to the altered outcome, and this is no less true that in the case of sitting all day. If you’re eager to fight against sitting disease and its negative effects, you need to find as many ways as possible to alter your behaviour.

Simple steps can act as the launching platform for long-term change, so start small by parking far away from the entrance to the mall, walking to the water cooler every hour, making verbal requests from co-workers at their desks instead of emailing them, and taking the scenic route to the bathroom. By making a few alterations to your habitual behaviour, you’re not only meeting the target for daily activity, but you’re also doing so in such a way that won’t require hours of your time or a daunting commitment that could put you off entirely.

Remind yourself to stand

Some of you may be fortunate enough to already have invested in a standing desk, which allows you to switch between sitting and standing with ease. Some of these desks even feature a downloadable App that reminds you when to stand negating the need to constantly watch the clock.

By standing every so often, you give your body a micro-break from sitting and can even use it as a chance to get some activity in. March in place while you stand if you have to stay at your desk, or if you’re able to, wander around the office and reorganise. Whatever you do, you’re taking a step in the right direction just by standing on your feet.

When it comes down to it, there are a number of ways by which you can take a break from sitting all day. And, by just making the choice to stand for a while every hour and be more active throughout your day, you’ve already started to win the war on sitting. Not only will you feel more focused and energised at work, but you’ll also steer yourself clear of the horrors of life as a couch potato that your mum never told you about.

 

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