Are you sitting yourself to death?
We all know that sitting for hours in end isn’t good for us but even if you exercise regularly, you might not be as protected from health issues as you might think.
According to a recent survey of 220,000 Australian adults by JAMA Internal Medicine, those who sit for eight hours a day on average increased their risk of dying within three years – compared to those who sat for less than four hours a day – by a whopping 15 percent.
This risk remained the same whether the person exercised or not. And while other factors like diet and lifestyle habits have to be taken into account, the study confirms that not moving like our bodies were intended can have serious and long term effects.
Think of your body like a car that is left out in the street for a few weeks while you go on holidays. When you get back, the car might take longer to start, it might have some wear and tear or corrosion from being left idle or it might need parts replaced to get it going again. Your body is no different.
The biggest positive effect moving more has on the body is that it allows blood sugar and tryglyceride levels to be driven down again and again over the period of a day. From a health perspective, this is essential if we are to avoid lifestyle problems like diabetes, stroke, nerve damage and a heart attack.
And it only takes about 15 minutes of movement every hour to ensure your body is getting the movement it needs to avoid this.
Sustained low grade activity like walking, standing up and down, fidgeting, and going about daily tasks in a more active way is something we can all do.
Specifically, here are some tips for how you can get more active at work, given that most of us spend at least eight hours a day there:
1. Use a stand up desk at work
There are lots of different ways you can create a make shift one, and more office furniture businesses are stocking these now.
2. Have your business meetings standing up
Why not take meetings while walking around the block? Use a clip board or recording device to take notes. Movement creates clearer thinking as well.
3. Buddy up with a work colleague to take a short 15 minute walk
You don’t have to get sweaty, it’s just about moving more.
4. Set a pop up alarm on your PC
This will remind you to just get up and walk around for five minutes. Use this time to jot down your action plan or priority list for the rest of the day.
5. Drink lots more water and use your toilet time
Try doing 10 squats each time you go to the bathroom followed by 20 arm circles. It really does help your circulation.
And of course there is the good old pedometer to give you an accurate account of how much you are moving. Why not make a competition out of it at work with a weekly price for the most steps walked?
You only have one body, treat it with respect and it will reward you generously.