Let’s take some time to think about how long you spend sitting in one single working day: You sit down at breakfast, you sit on transport to get to work, at work you sit in meetings or on the computer, you sit while having lunch, sit to transport home, sit for dinner at home, and then you sit to unwind while watching television or reading a book at the end of the day.
Dr. Andrew Arnold adds, ‘For most people, as much as 80% of their working day involves sedentary activities. However, humans have evolved to the only function at our best in an upright position. This is why research has found that sitting can be as bad for our health as smoking.’
Studies have found sitting for long periods of time has been linked to
- Heart Disease
- Varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis
- Anxiety and depression
- Muscle wasting
- Poor posture
All of these conditions can lead to an early death.
Now you may be thinking but I complete the recommended half an hour of activity every day, so sitting for long periods won’t affect me as much. It still can. This is because in total you will still spend more hours sitting per day than you will spend exercising.
Lucky for you, there are many simple workplace and lifestyle changes you can make to help flip the balance to get you moving more and sitting less.
The easiest is a way to do this is to build more activity into your day. You can do so by:
- Walk or cycle instead of driving
- Get off public transport one stop earlier or park further away from work so you can include extra walking into your morning and evening
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Walk over to colleagues at work instead of emailing
- Walk around when taking a phone call
- Organize walking work meetings where you go outside and discuss agendas while walking rather than seated around a table.
If your job requires you to be at a desk for long periods there are also things you can modify to help combat the effects of prolonged sitting:
- Set an alarm on your phone every 30minutes to remind you that you need to get up and take a break.
- Stretch at your desk to keep your muscles and joints mobile
- Sit on a backless chair or exercise ball so you engage the core to promote good posture
- High-lo desks so you can continue to work whilst standing up.
Implementing these simple measures can cut minutes to hours from the time you spend sitting every day and add them back into your life expectancy, so start these changes now!
About the Author:
Dr Rhiannon Ezard is past resident Chiropractor at Cranbourne Family Chiropractic and Wellness Ctr.