You are most likely sitting as you read this. And you are likely to have been sitting for some time. Think about how much you sit in a day: driving or riding during your morning commute to an 8-hour-day desk job, and then in the evening watching TV or sitting in front of the screen of a computer. Today, we use email, apps, direct-deposit paychecks, and online shopping to accomplish tasks that not long ago would require us to move to complete.
Our bodies were meant to move. Emerging research shows that long periods of physical inactivity raises our risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. A 2013 study suggests that higher volumes, greater than 6 hours sitting are significantly associated with diabetes and otherchronic diseases, independent of the amount of physical activity and other potentially confounding factors (George, et al. 2013). Another group of researchers reported that each hour sitting and watching TV is linked to an 18% increase in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease (Owen, et.al., 2010).
Over the past few years, health experts have warned that spending an extended amount of time sitting—regardless of whether you get sufficient exercise or not— is dangerous to your health. A large-scale study of about 2 million people in different countries found that the life expectancies of people who spent more than three hours a day lived two fewer years than people who sat less than three hours daily. This reduced life expectancy was found to be true regardless of whether a person got sufficient exercise or not. If this isn't enough to scare you. Consider this. This study also found that individuals who watched less than two hours daily live about 1.4 years longer than people who spend more than two hours a day watching TV (Katzmarzyk, et.al 2012).
So are you ready to get up and move? Here are ten ways to sneak in some time on your feet.
1) Get NEAT. NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis and includes stretching, turning and twisting, and bending. Many experts recommend that you aim for 10 minutes of NEAT each hour.
2) Stand more. Set a goal to stand up once an hour to walk to the restroom, get a refill of water. Standing up can decrease stiffness, boost energy and burn calories. Also try, when watching TV, to get up and move during every commercial break.
3) Lunch Time. How about a walk? Use stairs near your work to get a little exercise in. Even if there is only one flight of steps, walk up and down for a few minutes.
4) Walk vs. Text/ Email. Need information? Don't send him an email; walk to his cubicle and ask him face to face. How about initiating email-free Fridays to get employees out of their chairs more often. And you get the added benefit of personal contact. Start having “talk while you walk” meetings with your co-workers, and get out of the conference room.
5) Try standing. Activating your muscles by standing burns more calories than sitting. So, train yourself to stand whenever you talk on the telephone and occasionally stand during long meetings.
6) Rearrange the office. Some companies have installed stand up desks or treadmills at every workstation. Move trash cans out of cubicles to make people walk to throw out the garbage. Relocate water coolers or printers further from the work area to get people to get up from their desks.
7) Energize at the end of the day. Try taking a 15-minute walk in the afternoon, you'll be far more productive in your last 2 hours. Even if you think that you can’t spare the time, you may be surprised that you get your work done more quickly afterward.
8) Maximize your commute. If you take mass transit to work, consider standing up; or practice clenching and relaxing your muscles. You might even consider getting off one stop early to get a little walk in. If you drive, try parking further away from the building.
9) Multitask while watching TV. Consider walking or jogging in place, or tidy up the room. Just don't be a couch potato.
10) Create moving tasks.
• Dance while you clean.
• Carry your groceries in your arms or a hand-carry basket vs. a cart. (You may even save money by buying less)
• While waiting in line, stand on one leg or step side to side.
How long did it take you to stand up after you started reading this? Let’s get moving!
Katzmarzyk PT, Lee IM (2012) Sedentary behaviour and life expectancy in the USA: a cause-deleted life table analysis. BMJ Open 2: e000828. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-000828. PubMed: 22777603000810. 001136/bmjopen-002012-000828.
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