Is sitting the new smoking?

The average person sits for 9.5 hours a day and for many I am sure this number is much higher. Recent research suggests that sitting is making us weak, sick, fat and eventually dead.

But how can sitting cause so much grief?

There are a number of ways that resting on our backside can lead to ass-tronomical problems. Firstly, sitting causes muscle dystrophy, where muscles weaken in the abs and butt and tighten in the hips and shoulders – eek! It has also been shown to slow down the metabolism, with a 90% decrease in the amount of enzymes that burn fat AND it doubles your risk of Cardiovascular disease, as sitting causes blood flow to become stagnant.
An Australian study looked at 9000 people and found that for every hour of average television watched the risk of dying rose by 11% (binge watching Making a Murderer was so worth it though…then again, it was far from ‘average’ so it doesn’t count, right?). The doctor concluded that sitting for more than 9 hours a day is a lethal activity.
Another looked at women and found that even if you completed regular vigorous exercise your risk of disability doubled with every hour you sat. So regardless of how much you may exercise if you sit for long periods of the day you might be making yourself ill!
This has caused many leading health professionals to claim extended periods of sitting has become a major health concern for the modern world, some even labelling it ‘the smoking of our generation.’

So how can we limit our time sitting and maintain productivity?  

The latest trend in workplace wellbeing is working at a standing desk, but I am all too aware that many people don’t have this option. That’s why I’ve devised some tips and tricks for incorporating more activity into your workday routine.
is sitting the new smoking, walk to work

1. Walk to work

In the 90’s the Japanese government instructed corporations to conduct health screens of their employees. They looked at the commute of 800 workers and found that those who walked under 10 minutes to work showed no difference, while a 11-20 minute walk lowered blood pressure by 12% and a 21+ minutes walk decreased blood pressure by 29%. It turns out that just 20 minutes of walking is not only good for your heart, but it gives you a boost of happiness, increases your lifespan, and lowers your risk of disease. So next time you’re popping in the car, why not give your pins a stretch instead?
is sitting the new smoking, walking meetings

2. Walking meetings

Exercise increases oxygen flow to the brain, which improves our ability to absorb information and stay focused thus the best environment for processing information is one that includes motion. I find that if I’m on an important phone call or presenting in a workplace I perform best when I am moving around the room. So why not try a walking business meeting? You and your colleagues could knock out a leisurely three kilometres over the course of an hour – you won’t have the luxury of nodding off though!
is sitting the new smoking, take the stairs

3. Take the stairs

Unless you’re in the select few jobs that don’t spend their day tied to a desk, chances are sitting is difficult to avoid. However, you can get your blood pumping by skipping the elevator and taking the stairs. If you don’t have stairs at work, try taking regular breaks – whether it be to get a glass of water or speak to a colleague rather than email. I’m sure you’ll see an improvement in your posture and any niggling aches and pains.

Image credits: iStock

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