Recent research has shown that one of the worst things you can do for your health is something you are probably doing right now … sitting! In a study published in the January 20, 2015 Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers reviewed 47 studies evaluating the association between adults’ sedentary time and health outcomes independent of physical activity. Evidence showed that too much time sitting has been linked to an increased risk for a number of health concerns – cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. All of which may lead to premature death. If that doesn’t sound bad enough, a sedentary lifestyle has also been linked to an increased risk of developing dementia. And while the negative effects of sitting were more pronounced in people who exercise very little or not all, even those who exercise up to an hour a day are not immune to the risks of sitting if they spend most of their day on their butts! This fun video does a great job showing just how bad sitting is for you.
Whether you exercise regularly or not, you can still improve your health just by spending more time on your feet.
Tips to reduce sitting time:
- At your desk, get up and walk around or stand for 1-2 minutes every 30 minutes – set a timer to help you remember. Do the same at home when watching TV, use the commercial breaks as movement breaks (even when watching a recording) – exercise, stretch, get a glass of water, etc.
- Stand or walk while you are on the phone.
- Instead of sitting in an office for a meeting, take a walk with colleagues instead.
- Try a standing desk. Some have variable heights to easily switch from sitting to standing.
- Simply spend more time standing whenever you can – like when waiting for a table or in a meeting.
Create new habits to be less sedentary and eventually you’ll be moving more without having to think about it. If you still need a little more motivation, standing burns about 30% more calories than sitting. Start by setting a goal of 15-20 minutes of less sitting a day. Eventually work up to 2-3 hours of reduced sedentary time and you will be well on your way to improving your health. You only have one body, take care of it!