These days, the average person sits for 7.7 hours every day! The typical pattern is to jump out of bed, get into the car so that we can sit at our desk at work then jump back in the car and end a full-on day in front of the tv. Our sedentary lifestyles have changed dramatically from how our ancestors used to live. With it, researchers have shown that obesity, other diseases and even early death are on the rise because of it. So, what’s wrong with sitting? And, how can we move more to improve our general health? Here’s the answers…
The Effects of Too Much Sitting
At first, it seems ridiculous that sitting could be so bad for your health. Sitting has become the social norm. We race for seats on public transport, sit at work, rely on cars instead of our legs to take us places and rest our legs while we stare at television, computer and phone screens. It’s almost constant! So much so that some medical professionals are starting to talk about the negative effects of what they term, ‘sitting disease’.
So, what does spending too much time off those toes actually do to your body:
- Increased risk of obesity – When we sit all day instead of being naturally more active, it’s estimated that we burn about 1,000 less calories per day. That’s a huge amount and we can’t just undo that from hitting the gym for an hour or eating less. Fewer calories burned means more calories stored and up goes out weight along with its other negative effects…
- Increased risk of heart disease – It’s estimated that sitting all day has a similar effect as smoking does on increasing the risk of heart attack
- Increased risk of type II diabetes – Being sedentary increases insulin resistance
- Possible increased risk of depression
- Possible increased risk of developing cancer
In fact, a study conducted in 2010 by the American Cancer Society found that women were 94% more likely to die early if they sat for more than 6 hours a day while men showed a 48% increase.
What to Do About It
- Making sedentary jobs less sedentary – If quitting your job is an option, maybe think about it… But, if there’s no way that you can ditch the desk, ask your boss about getting a standing desk. Or, at the least, buy yourself a swiss ball so you can bounce and role away throughout your working hours. It’s not the perfect solution but it’s one step towards improvement.
- Creating more incidental movement – If there’s no way out of having to sit for much of the day, it’s important to try to get up and move as much as you can. Get up and stretch your legs while you take work calls, go for a walk during your lunch break or park further away from your office or the shops so that you have to move yourself to get there. There’s heaps of ways to add more movement to your day. Just get creative!
- Making your workouts count – While 30 minutes or an hour of exercising can’t undo the effects of sitting all day, it can help. But, make sure that you’re moving in a variety of ways. Instead of just picking one thing to focus on like running that projects you forwards or lifting weights that usually involves moving sideways or up and down, add variety to your exercise routine. This will help you to get the most from the finite part of the day you’re moving around. Become a fitness generalist instead of a specialist. Try to make your body as balanced, strong and flexible as possible. This means that you should do it all! A wide variety of weight training, throw some high intensity intervals in there and some longer and slower cardio to work your endurance.