Get up out of your chair if you want to live! Shake the lead out of your limbs, and stand tall. Sitting is killing us. And what’s worse, we can’t run from it later. It turns out that exercise alone can’t fully counteract the effects of too much prolonged sitting. We sit in the car, bus or train on our way to work. In front of the computer? Sitting. How about the TV? Sitting. If we're not eating in front of the TV? Still sitting. It's great if we cut out the cigarette we used to have after a meal, but it seems that sitting has become the new smoking of our generation. If you’re sitting 8-12 hours a day, it’s time to come up with a new strategy.
Bad News: You Can't Make it Up to Yourself...
Many studies show us the wide range of health benefits brought on by exercise. Unfortunately, a meta-analysis of studies also reveals some unfortunate news: the wide range of harmful effects brought on by prolonged sitting can’t be erased with a few hours of gym time. You can’t really make up for the time you spent not getting up.
Here’s what you’re risking – a near doubling of the risk of diabetes and increases of 13% to 24% in cardiovascular disease and cancer. If you don’t get regular exercise, and you sit for prolonged periods, your increased risk of mortality from all causes is 46%. With regular exercise, the increase in your mortality risk still remains 16% greater than for people who are not prolonged sitters. Take a minute to shake that off.
Good News: You Can Make it Easy on Yourself!
Are you reading this at your computer? Then try it standing up. Using the muscles it takes to stand and support yourself upright will help trigger the metabolic processes that break down fats and sugars. When you sit, everything seems to idle. As a recent headline put it, “when you’re sitting, you’re one step above being dead.” So stop thinking and start moving. There can be manageable ways to keep your metabolism in gear throughout the day.
- Walk when you talk on the phone.
- Eat your lunch standing up.
- Rest your computer on a higher counter and stand while you type.
- Better yet, get a standing desk if you can. Best of all, get a treadmill desk…if you can!
- Get your colleagues to join you for a walking meeting – record it on your phone if you feel you’ll be missing out on the ability to take notes.
These strategies can’t undo all the damage of sitting, but getting up and getting moving is always a good place to start. Gotta run!