During the day, you’re planted in front of a computer screen and when you finally get home you melt into your couch. Not much room for moving around is there? Sitting has become an epidemic – and sitting is killing you.
Sitting at work is the new smoking; both can negatively impact your health. Sadly you can’t combat the effects of smoking a pack a day by simply eating well and exercising for a weekend. These negative effects take time to heal and bring us back to good health. Likewise, because we sit exceptionally longer than we exercise, it’s difficult to reverse the damage sitting may cause. When we sit we’re not using our muscle, not increasing our heart rates and probably snacking a lot more as well. With all these factors playing against us, sitting can take a large toll on your life.
Historically, humans were roamers. They moved to hunt, to find land to live, everything they did involved physical movement. Nowadays we sit in a car or on transit to take us to work, sit at our desk, and sit on our couches because we’re too tired to move.
But we were simply not meant to just sit and sit some more. This is why sitting is affecting us so greatly and why we need to make efforts to get healthy.
Sitting at work bad for health
Endless amounts of research has come to light on the damages of sitting and what it means for our health. As we’ve mentioned, sitting at work is the new smoking, so whether you are a smoker or not, you’re still living an unhealthy life.
But this research isn’t just about those who sit at work, it also applies to those who live a sedentary life – seniors for example. Basically, if you sit the majority of the day, you’re at risk.
One study from the University of Queensland in Australia monitored the television-watching habits of 8,800 Australians. Conclusions of the study revealed that watching at least six hours of television a day can cause a reduction in lifespan by five years.
Furthermore, the American Cancer Society conducted similar research over a 14-year span. They, too, concluded that women who sat six hours a day had a 37 percent increase in mortality in comparison to women who only sat for three hours a day. Men also had an increase in mortality by 17 percent when sitting for six hours. What both of these studies reveal is that sitting is killing you.
I’m chained to my desk, what do I do?
Trying to negate the effects of sitting all day with an evening walk or jog simply isn’t enough. You have to keep in motion throughout the day and create better circulation as well as changes in heart beat.
Some tactics you can utilize are sitting at work exercises.
Quick and short exercises
A common complaint linked to sitting all day is sitting at work back pain. Right off the bat, this can be relieved by sitting properly.
Some steps you can take to sit properly and avoid sitting at work back pain are to support your back. This can be done by adjusting the chair and having your knees level with your hips – a footrest can help with this.
Your computer screen and keyboard should be at least an arm’s length ahead of you. Wrists and arms should be kept vertical. The mouse, on the other hand, should be kept slightly closer – once again ensuring your wrist is kept straight.
Other sitting at work exercises include being an “active sitter.” This refers to keeping your circulation pumping and maintaining some level of activity.
For starters – and if applicable – opt to stand at your desk. This may be difficult because your office would need higher desks, but if your work environment allows it, take advantage. If you can’t stand while at the desk, find tasks that allow you to stand to perform. For example, talk on the phone while standing or read reports while standing. Better yet, objects that you use a lot should be kept at a distance so you need to walk over to them.
Sure, e-mail is an easy way to convey a message, but take the time to relay a message as an opportunity to get up and walk over to the person.
Additional sitting at work exercises involve stretching. If you must sit for periods of time, take minor breaks to rotate your neck or your shoulders, stretch your arms up and out and maybe perform some leg and calf raises underneath your desk. Any form of movement to break up your day of sitting can help.
Sitting versus standing: The benefits
Now that we know that sitting is killing you, let’s examine the benefits of standing. Standing, unlike sitting, promotes calorie burn, increases energy, improves blood flow and increases your metabolism – all good things our bodies need to stay healthy.
Calories burned sitting versus standing
We burn more calories while standing as opposed to sitting, but how many more, exactly? Well, for each hour you sit, if you were standing you’d burn an additional 30-plus calories. So throughout an eight-hour day you have the opportunity to burn up to an additional 200 calories standing as opposed to sitting – that’s enough to combat your afternoon snack!
Get moving and live longer
Sitting at work is bad for health, but sitting period is causing serious health concerns. Becoming aware of your sitting habits is a great first start to devising a plan to become more active. Sitting at work exercises can be beneficial to improve blood flow, burn calories and feel better overall.
Being kept in front of a computer screen can feel dragging, so sitting at work exercises can help you feel revitalized and even more productive. Take any opportunity you can to get up. Instead of spending your lunch break solely in the break room, take a stroll around the building. Make sure when you sit your posture is correct to avoid sitting at work back pain. Lastly, considering that sitting as work is the new smoking, start all these tactics today! The more you hesitate, the more damage you will only cause yourself.
The older we get, it seems the more we just want to sit. But be aware this can shorten your life. So whether you’re sitting because of a job, or sitting because you’re at home retired, initiatives to move around are your best defense against mortality.
You eat fairly healthy, you exercise and you even get ample amount of sleep most nights. But chances are that you’ve got a daily habit that isn’t doing your body any favors – and you don’t even know it. Are you sitting down for this?
We’ve heard about the detrimental effects lack of exercise can have on our health. Not just tighter pants and low energy, but serious health risks. A 2012 study from the UK has estimated that lack of exercise in adults has contributed to the majority of cases of heart disease and colon cancer.