Is sitting the new Smoking?

27/10/2016

Over the past few years the phrase “sitting is the new smoking” has become well known. People are becoming aware of the increasing body of research discussing the impact of sitting on our health. Sadly folks the news isn’t good.

Studies show the average office worker can sit for as long as 12-15 hours per day! Think of travelling to and from work, mealtimes, sitting at your work station and watching TV. Research also found even vigorous exercise does not counteract the adverse effects of prolonged sitting.

Further to this, research found prolonged sitting actively promotes dozens of chronic illnesses, even if you are fit. This includes some of the biggest killers and causes of dysfunction in the developed world with evidence showing a relationship between chronic prolonged sitting and conditions including:

  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Reduced bone density
  • Increased body pain and dysfunction

Our bodies are designed to be upright and moving. Regular activity should dominate our day with rest from time to time. However many of us sit for long periods each day and if we are good fit in some exercise for a short period of the day.

So what can we do about it? The answer is simple Get Up!

It has been shown within 90 seconds of standing the cellular and molecular systems in the body that process blood sugar, triglycerides and cholesterol are activated. So just standing up and walking around is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself!

Here are a few simple tips you can incorporate into your day to lessen the effects of sitting:

  • Sit for no more than 3-4 hours total per day. Look at your average day and calculate the amount of time you spend sitting (including time at work, traveling and at home). You will probably find the amount of time surprisingly high. Once you have done this look at ways you can cut this down. At first 3 hours may seem challenging so trim the total time down gradually.
  • When sitting for longer than 20 minutes get up and move. Based on your work environment this may be challenging but where possible avoid spending too long in one position. Being stagnant is one of the worst things we can be doing to our body. Find ways to structure your office and work life to get you up and moving regularly.
  • Move to a sit-stand office desk (check out our blog on sit-stand desks). There are many health benefits and research shows a reduction in absenteeism and improved productivity.
  • Enjoy walking as part of your daily routine. The average office worker walks 3000 steps per day when ideally we should be walking 7000-10000. Pedometers and fitness trackers are a great tool to track your daily level of activity.

You will feel so much better for longer!

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