Personal Quiz Time!
- At work or at home, do you, on average, sit for less than 2-4 hours a day? (yes or no)
- While you sit or stand, are your ears in line with your shoulders? (yes or no)
- While you sit, do you have both feet flat on the floor? (yes or no)
If you answered no to any of the above 3 questions, this article is for you! You may have heard the new phrase, ‘Sitting is the New Smoking’, but the truth is that sitting may actually be worse for you than smoking. Even if you exercise, if you sit for prolonged periods of time, your health is at serious risk. Why? Our bodies are made to move and sitting for more than two hours a day significantly increases your risk of weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and low back pain. In fact, just after 20 minutes of sitting blood starts to pool in our legs and after 30 minutes of sitting our metabolism slows down by 90%! Scientists have found that two metabolic reactions significantly decline while you sit and suppress your metabolic health. This leads to increased blood fat and blood sugar levels. The good news is that by adding more movement to your day and practicing good posture, you can avoid the negative effects of sitting. Stand up for your health and follow these tips:
Standing Goal: Recently, the British Journal of Sport Medicine announced that you should start with 2 hours a day of standing and moving and gradually work up to 4 hours or half your day standing and doing ‘light-intensity activities’. Even when standing you will still need to move around. You can add movements such as light knee bends, shoulder rolls or shifting weight from one side to the other.
Get a Stand Up Desk: Getting a stand up desk will help to lower your risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and low back pain. During standing, your muscles are working hard to keep your body upright and to prevent you from losing your balance. Additionally, since standing helps to promote better circulation, it will increase your productivity and boost your mood. Please note: Start gradually-don’t start by standing all day long. In fact, even once your body is adapted to more standing, it’s a good idea for you to sit down and rest your body when your legs feel fatigued.
Change your Sitting Habits: When you sit, are your sitting long and tall with your ears in line with your shoulders? This is key because it tells you about your posture. If your head is forward and not in line with your shoulders, then your posture is not in a healthy position for your lower back, shoulders and neck. When you sit in an upright position, all the weight of your upper body is evenly distributed throughout your spine. This prevents unnecessary wear and tear on your joints as well as prevents your muscles from being strained. To protect your back, follow the 5 Steps to Better Posture during sitting.
Add More Movement to Your Day: Keep your metabolism going by adding more movement to your day. By adding more movement you will not only burn more calories but also help to prevent the other negative effects mentioned above such as muscle atrophy and low back pain. Here are some ways to increase activity throughout your day:
- Park Further Away: Whether at the office or at the grocery store, park further away from the entrance. It may not seem like it does much, but all those extra steps add up over time.
- Take the Stairs: Anytime you have the opportunity to take the elevator, escalator or the stairs, opt for the stairs.
- Set a Timer: Set a timer to remind you to stand every hour for at least 5 minutes. During this time, get some water, visit a colleague or do 5-10 Standing Back Extensions.
- Walk and Talk: Walking meetings are gaining popularity and give you a chance to get fresh air. Whether in person or on the phone, if you don’t need your computer for the meeting, take the call while walking.
- Work out During Lunch: Use your lunch hour to get in your work out. Having a workout buddy will help to keep you going and motivated.
Support Each Other:
If you are the first one to start doing work place stretches or to get a stand up desk, maybe someone will make a comment or maybe even you have made comments about the guy down the hall on his treadmill desk or the woman using her stand up desk. It doesn’t matter, what matters is that you support each other at work and encourage having a more dynamic workplace. A healthier workplace is good for everyone. Research shows that people are not only more productive and healthier, but happier.