What is something that most Americans do every day, but is just as unhealthy as smoking? Would you be surprised to find out that it is sitting? Knowing that sitting for long periods of time isn’t the best for you is one thing. Knowing that it is as dangerous as smoking is another. It’s a game changer. So how can sitting possibly be as bad as smoking? We wanted to know why.
This is what we learned. The production of enzymes that burn the body’s fat declines with each hour of sitting. Sitting for long periods of time can slow the metabolism and affect things like HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Sedentary behavior increases the chance of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and breast and colon cancer. That certainly is comparable to the health risks of smoking.
What can we do to help improve our health when so many people sit at desks all day for their jobs?
Do you exercise? If so, this is great. Keep it up! But it isn’t the only thing you should be doing. Studies show that your health is at risk if you’re primarily sedentary even if you do have an exercise regimen. So, continue your exercise regimens, but make sure that you add in other things to make your daily habits less sedentary.
The first step to sitting less is just being aware of how much you are sitting. Once you truly see how many hours per day you spend sitting, you can set goals to help you reduce that number.
If you spend every day working at a desk, take a short break every half hour or so. Get up for two to three minutes and move. Take laps around your office, or if that isn’t feasible, walk in place at your desk.
Do you sit in on conference calls during your day? Take them on your cell phone instead of at your desk and go for a walk. Or if can, plan to take a walking meeting.
Eat lunch standing instead of sitting. Or better yet, walk somewhere near your office to pick up a bite for lunch.
This is a great option for those that work from home. Create a work surface above a treadmill. A specialized stand out to fit a monitor and keyboard allowing you to be in motion all day.
A standing desk or a workstation at a high table or counter seems to be a trend that’s picking up steam. The health benefits of standing desks are still not completely clear, but it is a better alternative to sitting. And, some of history’s truly great minds have used them – like Leonard Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemmingway and Benjamin Franklin. Great company!
When at home and watching TV, don’t forward through commercials. Get up and move around during commercial breaks.
The bottom line is get moving and keep moving. Limit your total daily sitting hours to the minimum. You’ll burn more calories, feel better and best of all, live a healthier lifestyle!