How Sitting All Day Hurts Your Body
And simple steps to becoming more active...
You might have read some frightening articles about the impact sitting all day has on your body. Headlines seemed to be screaming things like ‘sitting all day is as bad for your health can be as bad as smoking’. It can be frightening to think about, but many of these scary articles do have a point: being active is incredibly important for your long-term health!
Leading a lifestyle with minimal exercise has been linked to so many health problems and, unfortunately, these problems can apply to people who spend a large portion of their day sitting.
Don't panic though! Today I’m going to help you understand why sitting can be a big problem for your health and suggest ways you can overcome these issues!
So, what's the damage?
Want to know something scary? It’s been reported that people who sit all day may be twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those who spend most of their day standing. Add to that reports of increased rates of blood pressure, high cholesterol and unhealthy blood-sugar levels.
Another problem that sitting all day creates has to do with our posture. Most people slouch, or lean forward, putting their body at an awkward angle. All of this can put strain on your neck and lower back, leaving you with sore shoulders or headaches. Continuously sitting for long periods can also put extra stress on your spine.
Some of the other health issues linked to sitting all day include weakened muscles, reduced range of motion in the hips and decreased calorie burning. For us girls, another big concern is losing bone mass, which has been shown to be a potential long-term concern with sitting for many hours.
Something important that I want to point out is these health problems don’t just apply to people sitting all day at work. These problems also affect people who regularly spend several hours in front of the TV, a lot of time in the car or in front of the computer at home as well.
But you workout, so it doesn't matter, right?...Wrong!
A common misconception: If you keep fit with an hour or so exercise a day, you’re healthy.
But while taking time to exercise every day supports overall wellbeing, the effects of being inactive throughout the day can’t be reversed by exercise, so it's essential you move regularly, around every half hour!
This includes simply moving from sitting to standing.
The good news is that it doesn't take a major change in your lifestyle to see a big difference in your health.
Taking small steps to move regularly throughout the day, no matter what your levels of fitness, can significantly reduce the health risks associated with being sedentary.
Here are simple ways to keep more active throughout the day:
You can be more active at work by:
- Standing or taking a break from your desk every 30 minutes
- Using the stairs rather than the elevator
- Standing during phone calls
- Get up to go get water regularly - helps you stay hydrated too!
- Walking over to colleagues to discuss projects instead of emailing them
- Eating your lunch away from your desk, preferably taking a walk outdoors
- Do quick workout moves during TV ad breaks - star jumps, push ups, walking lunges
- Swapping one TV show for walking time
- Walking whilst watching your favourite show
- Taking charge of the mopping & vacuuming so you can move around more
- Taking public transport - this involves more movement and walking around
- Walking up escalators and taking stairs
- Getting off the bus or train a stop early and walking the rest of the way
- Parking your car in the space furthest from the entrance, or a few streets away
- Standing on public transport and offering your seat to someone who may need it more.