How to Counteract the Negative Effects of Sitting
Prolonged sitting can have a dramatic impact on your health. Lack of movement has been linked to chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, weight gain and more. It’s no wonder that sitting has been dubbed the new smoking! As more people find themselves working behind a computer, it’s not uncommon for most of us to sit between 12 -15 hours per day (including hours spent in the car and time hanging out on the couch after work). Factor in 8 hours of sleep (if you’re lucky), and you’re looking at a measly 1-4 hours of movement per day. If that doesn’t scream health crisis, I don’t know what does.
I’m not going to suggest that you find job that doesn’t involve desk work, so here are some practical tips for counteracting the negative effects of prolonged sitting.
Standing desks are becoming increasingly popular in commercial and home offices. They are also getting cheaper and easier to setup. You can even build your own standing desk with just a few basic items. Check out this article from Lifehacker which highlights all types of DIY standing desks.
This exercise is simple to do and extremely effective at reducing tightness in the hips. It also feels great after a long day of sitting or a long run.
To perform a yoga squat, start by standing up straight with your feet about a shoulder’s width apart.
Keeping your feet flat on the floor, bend your knees and drop your hips down as low as you can. This movement stretches the hip flexors and glutes, allowing for much needed blood flow to the area and increases mobility over time.
If you are worried about falling over or can’t maintain your balance, use a wall or piece of furniture for stability.
Get Up and Move Every Hour
It’s easy to get sucked into work and lose track of time. I’m shocked when I look at the clock and realized that I haven’t gotten up from my desk in 3 hours. To make sure that you are moving regularly, try setting an alarm or notification on your phone or computer. There are also many apps and fitness trackers that track your steps like Lumo Lift or the iOS Health app. These are great tools that can help you stay accountable to your activity and movement goals.
“Sitting is so incredibly prevalent that we don’t even question how much we’re doing it. And because everyone else is doing it, it doesn’t even occur to us that it’s not OK.” – Nilofer Merchant, TED 2013
Tip: Make your next meeting a walking meeting. You and your colleagues will get in a bit of exercise and the fresh air might even spark new ideas.
Sadly, no amount of exercise can completely eradicate the negative effects sitting has on our bodies, but every little bit helps. By incorporating more movement in our daily lives, we can work towards keeping our bodies as healthy as possible.
What are some of your favorite activities? Share in the comments below.