The Healthy Truth: Combating the sitting problem

healthy truth sittingDear Friend,

By now, I am sure you know about this growing problem in America and many other developed countries. Yes, it’s sitting. Something so simple is turning into a pressing health issue – and for a good reason, too.


We are sitting for longer periods of time, that’s a fact. Extended research links sedentary lifestyle to higher risk of chronic illness and obesity. In fact, the effects of prolonged sitting have been compared to the way smoking is taking years off your life. Yep, you read that right. Sitting for long periods shortens your life similar to heavy cigarette smoking.

This is a concern to me as well, because for nine hours a day I am glued to my work desk (how else would I bring you this helpful information?). But it’s okay, because I have a plan! You see, whenever I can, or at least when I begin to feel the itch to, I get up from my seat and move around. Even when I can’t move around too far, you will find me stretching out my painful limbs.

That’s right, that’s what I do. My fellow co-workers often walk into my office to find me in a backbend, a yoga pose, or any type of stretching position. Sure, they may stare for a moment or ask, “What are you doing?” But it’s fine! I’m not embarrassed, because I know I am slowly (but surely) trying to work off those harmful effects of sitting.

When I teach my fitness classes, I meet tons of people in the same boat. They complain to me that they are in pain, they aren’t as flexible anymore, or that they find it difficult to perform certain moves. That’s what countless hours of sitting do to you.

I encourage people to follow my suit. I show them simple stretches and exercises that are completely office friendly and offer just enough for you to feel the blood rushing through your body. And, man, is that a great feeling! Nothing is more refreshing than a good stretch, and better yet, I find it gives me a quick energy boost as well.
Some basic stretches I like to perform are quad stretches where I hold on to my foot with my knee bent, bend over, and reach for my toes, or my personal favorite, using the wall to complete a half back bend – pure bliss!

It’s important that you move around as much as possible, and while it may not always be feasible, here are some tips to give you an excuse to move.

  • Stand while talking on the phone or reading an e-mail.
  • Set up your printer further away from your desk, so when you print you have to get up and get it.
  • Don’t leave snacks at your desk, keep them in a lunch room, so when you’re hungry you have to get up to get them.
  • Instead of calling someone’s extension in the office, walk over to talk in person.
  • Take a stroll around the building on your designated break.
  • Make a buddy system – whether it is someone who shares the office with you or a person in another department, keep tabs on each other’s movement accomplishments.
  • Take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator.

These are just some tips you can try to ensure you move throughout your day and don’t fall victim to sedentary lifestyle. Research has shown it’s simply not enough to work out during the week – it is also important that you find other ways to keep moving.

You can find lots of useful office stretches on Google. I’ve actually printed some up and pinned them to my board as a reminder of what needs to be stretched.


Do you have any tips to keep moving in the office? Share them in the comments!

Until next week,


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Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.