If you work in an office, you’re probably sitting for at least 8 hours a day. Add that time to the time spent in your car or on your couch watching TV, you may be sitting up to 15 hours a day. But did you know that sitting too much can be bad for your health?
According to a University of South Carolina study in 2009, if you spend at least 23 hours a week sitting, your risk of heart disease increases up to 64%. Sitting too much can also increase your risk of certain types of cancer, including breast, colon and ovarian.
The main reason for these increased risks is our bodies weren’t really made for sitting all day. Think about it. People used to be a lot more active when we didn’t have all of the modern conveniences of today that make life easier.
The more we sit over 6 hours a day, the more it affects our bodies. The electrical activity in our muscles slows down. We burn less calories. Over time, our triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol go up. Our blood sugar levels rise. And we gain extra weight. We can also lose up to 1% of our bone mass each year.
However, the good news is you can counteract these effects by reducing the amount of time you’re sitting and adding more movement into your life. Here are some simple things you can do to get up and get moving:
- Every hour, get up from your desk and walk around for 5 minutes. March in place. Do some simple exercises. Go talk to a co-worker in person instead of talking to them on the phone or exchanging emails. Take the longer route to the bathroom. Set a timer if you need to remember to get up. Over the course of your work day, you can reduce the amount of time you sit by 30 minutes.
- Stand while you work. Even if you’re only standing while you’re talking on the phone, you’ll burn more calories than you would if you were sitting.
- Walk during your lunch hour. After eating your lunch, take a 30-minute walk. Or, eat a protein bar or drink a protein shake while walking. Bring a friend and make your lunchtime walk even more fun.
- Hold standing or walking meetings. Send the agenda before the meeting. Designate one person to take notes. Not only will these types of meetings keep people from falling asleep, they can also inspire creativity and reduce the actual amount of time you spend meeting.
- Get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity each day to get your blood pumping. This can include a brisk walk, a bike ride, yard work or cleaning your house. Just get moving – that’s what counts. If you can’t get in a full 30 minutes at one time, then shoot for 3 ten-minute chucks of daily activity.
By incorporating more activity in your daily life, and reducing the amount of time you spend sitting, you can add years to your life while lowering your risk of disease.
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