Chronic prolonged sitting can put your health at risk. Here’s how to get out of your seat and onto your feet.
The research is in: Sitting is bad for your health. And most Americans spend, on average, 55 percent of their day doing one kind of sedentary behavior or another. But this news isn't really that surprising when you think about how much of your time is spent in front of a computer, watching TV, or driving a car. Research shows that this sedentary behavior can lead to an increased risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and dying from cardiovascular disease. An Australian study even showed that sitting too much could increase the risk of premature death.
The suspected reason? Scientists believe that too much sitting impairs the body's ability to deposit fat from the bloodstream into the body—and constantly elevated blood fats are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Exercise alone isn't the answer though. Researchers found that "active couch potatoes"—people who exercise for at least 150 minutes a week but are mostly sedentary the remainder of the time—are still at risk.
The good news is that you can reduce your sitting time with these simple strategies that help you move more throughout your day.
At the Office
Request a height-adjustable desk. This will allow you to alternate between standing and sitting throughout the day. Or swap your chair with a stability ball. Not only will you stand up more often, you might see an improvement in your posture. Use a headset or your speakerphone when on a call so you can stand and move around your office. Need to talk with a colleague? Instead of sending an email, try walking over to his or her desk to chat. Or suggest a "walking meeting" so you can stroll while you discuss an issue.
When watching TV, get up and walk around during commercial breaks. Watching a commercial-free movie? Make a point to press pause after every few scenes. If you're reading a book, get up after every six pages and move. Also try to walk around the house while checking your email on your phone or tablet.
If you drive, park a few blocks away from your destination or pick a spot at the back of the lot so you have a short walk. Taking public transportation? Get off one stop early and walk the rest of the way. Or give up your seat and stand, at least for part of the journey.