Studies have shown we need to sit less and move more for optimal health and longevity. With today’s contemporary lifestyles we can easily find ourselves sitting more than 10 hours per day, which is considered sedentary. While much of this could be in pursuit of work and a busy mind, an active body or lifestyle it does not make. There are, however, 10 easy ways to reduce sitting time and improve your health.
How much sitting is too much?
Our very way of life today will easily keep us sitting more than 10 hours a day, if we are not careful. This is an extreme sedentary lifestyle and carries with it many health risks. We sit through the day working at a desk (or on the couch), watching TV, driving our cars, using a computer, and sitting to read, listen to music, talk to friends, eat or peruse social media.
A sedentary lifestyle (too much sitting) is considered 6 or more waking hours a day in such activity. This does not necessarily equate to laziness. You could be hard at work behind your desk for 8 hours and fall into this classification. Your brain may be busy, but your body is not.
Effects of sitting all day
Research has shown sitting for long periods associated with obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and cholesterol levels, excess waist body fat, as well as an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. (1)
Studies have also shown women who sit 7 hours or more per day are three times as likely to experience symptoms of depression than their more active counterparts. (2)
Even more concerning, risk was significantly higher for 8 of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States for those sitting more than 6 hours per day or more. (3) And, physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK305049/
Tips to Reduce Time Sitting
Get a stand to sit desk. If you work in an office ask for the upgrade. If at home, make the change. This is a crucial area where you can turn time through the day where you normally spend hours sitting and into standing. Bare in mind, you can also rotate between sitting and standing.
Fidget. Yes, fidget. At a standing desk, move back and forth on your legs. If you are reading at your computer do leg lifts behind you or dangle and move your arms. You can even do squats while reading at a standing desk. If you are sitting, still fidget. Move your legs or ankles, shake your arms or hands out. And, get up for breaks.
Take walking or standing meetings | dates. This goes for business or social meetings. Have a meeting at a standing desk or counter (it will also help to move the meeting along more quickly). Have phone conversations while walking around the office, house, or block. Meet a friend for a casual walk instead of just a sitting coffee date. Walk to deliver a message to your co-worker (not email or text) and never text someone in the same house as you, instead walk to the room they are in. If you re done with a meal (even in a cafeteria) get up and move around or at least stand.
Take breaks during a movie. Get up and move during commercials or every 30 minutes. Move your legs and shift your position. Limit your tv time to just 1 hour per day and take up another activity instead.
Active Learning. If you are listening to or watching lectures, stand and better yet walk around while you watch or listen. If you go on a walk outdoors, take your mobile device to jot down any thoughts or notes while listening or watching.
Active Commuting. If you have to drive (or ride in a car) on your commute, there are still a couple of things you can do. If you stop for breakfast or coffee, park and go in (dodge the drive thru). Here again, fidget. Move your legs or wrists or arms as you drive or ride. You are still sitting, but you are at least moving a little. If on transit, stand rather than sit.
Active Social Media. If browsing social media or online videos, stand up to do so or better yet, walk around the house while engaged.
Active Waiting. Instead of heading for the seats in the waiting room stand while you wait for an appointment or fill out paper work. If at home stand while waiting on another person to depart or the timer to go off for something. If at a restaurant, stand while waiting on your table.
Active Thinking. Stand up and take a walk to think things through. This goes for personal, business, school or any type of learning. Studies have shown movement increases blood flow to the brain and helps with our cognitive ability. Take that walk (around the house, your room, outdoors) while you think. Take your mobile device to jot down any thoughts or ideas that come to mind.
Be intentional and Schedule. Think through your daily routines, morning, day and evening. Make note of every activity you are doing while sitting. Now think of ways from this list you can sit less during these and also to limit them if needed. Are there any places you could switch out activities all together to reduce sitting? Make a note of these and schedule them. This will help you break the habit of sitting.