We are more sedentary than ever – yes the benefits of exercise are more widely recognized and gym memberships have increased, however, our jobs are becoming less and less physical. The average Australian now spends around 90% of their waking hours sitting!
Prolonged periods of sitting have been associated with adverse health effects, such as Type 2 Diabetes, increased risk of heart disease and obesity. Recent studies have also shown that these health risks are only minimally neutralized by exercise and that sitting less should be something that is considered independent of exercise.
In fact, we are of the school of thought that thinks getting in your recommended 10,000 steps a day is more important that doing your 30 minutes a day of ‘moderate activity’.
Benefits of Sitting Less
Reducing the amount of time we spend sitting on our bottoms has a number of benefits for our health and wellbeing.
Sitting for shorter periods of time can help:
- Reduce our risk of Type 2 Diabetes,
- Reduce our risk of obesity,
- Reduce the risk of heart disease,
- Improve our concentration,
- Improves our posture,
- Improve our productivity, and
- Increase our energy.
Simply moving more helps our bodies better deliver nutrients to our organs and remove waste by encouraging greater circulation. Sitting less also encourages improved lymphatic drainage – meaning our bodies can more effectively filter and excrete any toxins.
Getting up and walking around has also been found to clear our thoughts and help with creativity – Steve Jobs actually liked to conduct walking meetings!
How to Sit Less
Ok so we know that it is important to move more and sit less, but how do we actually do that? Our days are filled with sitting, from the commute to and from work, actually working, sitting down to eat our meals and then enjoying some leisure time in front of the TV or our laptop when we get home.
Whilst a treadmill desk (you know, a desk on a treadmill…and yes, they do really exist), would be perfect for getting in our steps whilst at work, it’s probably not a very viable option – and not to mention imagine asking your boss for one! So here are some ways you can reduce the amount of time you spend on your derriere.
- Stand and take a break from your computer every 30 minutes – this could be going to get a glass of water or going to the toilet.
- Use the stairs – or if your office happens to be on the 400th floor, take the lift part way up and then use the stairs for the rest of the way.
- Stand during phone calls – use a headset instead of a hands-held phone so you can walk and talk at the same time.
- Walk to your colleagues’ desk instead of phoning or emailing – and let’s face it, emailing your work mates is just lazy!
- Move your bin away from your desk so you have to get up to put something in it – or even get rid of your bin so you have to walk to a common one.
- Channel you inner Steve Jobs and have standing or walking meetings.
- Eat your lunch away from your desk – which you should be doing anyway, you spend enough time at that desk already!
- Go for a walk in your lunch break – even just 10mins to get the blood flowing and some fresh air into your lungs.
- Get off the couch and walk around the house during commercial breaks.
- Move around the house when checking text messages and emails on your mobile phone – they better not be work emails though (but that’s a post for another time).
- Do household chores, such as washing dishes, folding clothes or ironing, while watching TV.
- Organise walking catch-ups with friends – even if it is just a walk to the coffee shop!
You don’t need to slave away at the gym to improve your health, rather just try to include ‘incidental’ activity throughout your day.