Take a stand for your health
Warning: Sitting can be hazardous to your health. In fact, too much sitting has gotten such a bad name that it’s even been referred to as “the new smoking.” The comparison might seem dramatic, until you learn about how dangerous it can be to sit most of the day.
Whether at your desk, in the car or in front of the TV, hours clocked in a seat increase your risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high blood sugar, elevated blood pressure, a bad back (and disk damage), tight hips and even cancer. According to a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, sitting has been directly linked to colon, endometrial and lung cancer. For every two hours of sitting a day, the risk increases more.
A big reason for this is that the muscles used while moving and standing help break down fats and sugars. Sitting means they build up, putting your health at risk. On top of that, sitting burns very little calories when compared to other activities, leading to weight gain.
Unfortunately, a trip to the gym in the evening doesn’t make up for a day in a chair. Mayo Clinic research shows that exercise doesn’t counterbalance the damage done by sitting. Of course, exercise plays a crucial role in your health, but it’s worth nothing that it does not cancel out the impact sitting has on your body.
Don’t take this news, er, sitting down. Here are a few ways to sneak in time on your feet throughout the day:
- Stand up during conference calls.
- Walk over to your coworkers desk rather than sending an email or g-chat.
- Ask HR if they’d be open to providing a standing desk for your office. More and more companies are open to this idea and it doesn’t hurt to ask if it’s doable.
- Set the goal of taking a five minute walk every hour or two. It will break up the day and get your body moving.
- Make a habit of walking after dinner. It will keep you from sitting around the kitchen table or heading straight for the TV.
- When you do want to catch your favorite show, don’t fast forward! Take advantage of every commercial break by getting up and getting a glass of water, emptying the dishwasher, etc. You can even sneak in some cardio or strength training.
- Take time to stretch. A few cow and cat yoga poses are perfect to offset sitting all day, as is stretching your hip flexors.
If you still find yourself having to sit a lot, make sure you’re sitting correctly. This means sitting up straight, with your shoulders relaxed, elbows bent 90 degrees and tucked in to your sides and both feet flat on the floor.
This blog post is part of #HealthyMe, a personalized web experience based on your health and wellness goals. To sign up today, visit http://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/healthyme
Photo credit: srgpicker