We all know that a sedentary lifestyle can lead to major health problems. And many of us take steps every day to combat that by working out and making healthy choices. However, research in the last few years has found that even if you work out vigorously a few times a week or even every day, you are putting yourself at risk for chronic health problems if you still sit for the remainder of the day.
Dr. Weiss noted that extended periods of sitting can lead to common issues such hip and knee pain, muscle atrophy, joint problems and poor posture, and it is also associated with a significantly higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, osteoporosis and depression. In fact, some health experts contend that sitting is worse than smoking.
“Sitting is just about the worst thing you can do for your body,” agreed Dr. Weiss.
Guidelines from the British Journal of Sports Medicine offer office workers strategies to help reduce the health risks of too much sitting:
- Stand up frequently throughout the day, aiming for a total of two hours of standing or walking daily
- Regularly change from a seated position to a standing position
- Avoid standing in one place too long, which can be just as harmful as extended periods of sitting
- Change your posture or do some light walking to combat pain and fatigue
“The most important thing is to just move,” said Dr. Weiss. "Try to focus on shifting your weight every 15 minutes and get out of your chair at least once per hour.”
Sit Less at Work
It can be easy to get focused on the tasks at hand at work and before you know it, you have been sitting all day. Try a few of these tips to get in more standing time at work:
- Take your calls standing or pace around your work area
- Hold masked and distanced standing meetings or even walking meetings
- Make a quick lap around the office
- Don’t just eat at your desk; take a lunch break
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator when you enter buildings
- Walk over and talk to your colleague (wearing a mask!) instead of sending an email
Sit Less at Home
This is even more of a problem for those working at home, and even after work. Between watching television, using the computer, driving, talking on the phone or reading it is very easy to spend most of the day sitting. Don’t let yourself become a couch potato; try these tips to get more movement in your day:
- Pace or walk around your house while you are on the phone
- Stand up and do some stretches while you are watching TV
- During commercial breaks, take an activity break and march in place or take a lap around your house
- After each meal, take a short stroll around your neighborhood
- Instead of doing a weekly cleaning of your home, do a little speed cleaning every day
- Invest in a stand-up desk or move your computer to a spot where you have to stand to use it
- Set an alarm or use a fitness tracker to remind yourself to get up and move
You just might be surprised at how much more productive you are when you move just a little bit more. Whether you are at work most of the day or at home, the message is the same: Sit less and stand and move more!