Pause for a moment and add up how many hours a day you spend sitting. Do you work in an office? Study? Have a long commute? Watch TV in the evening?
It probably doesn’t surprise you to find out that sitting for this long is detrimental to our health. Our bodies simply weren’t designed to remain in one position for extended periods of time. Inactivity increases our risk of obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease (including heart attacks), and even some cancers. The position in which you sit can also contribute to poor leg circulation, a stiff neck from craning towards a computer screen, ‘lazy’ abs from slumping over a desk, and a sore back from poor posture.
It can be very hard to avoid sitting though, especially when it comes to work. Is there any way we can offset the damage?
According to a recent Norwegian study*, YES! The researchers collated the results of various studies who followed over 1 million men and women for many years. They found that those who exercised the least had death rates 12-59% higher than those who exercised more. Those who exercised the most had no health issues caused by prolonged sitting! Specifically, 60-75 minutes of brisk walking or leisurely cycling was enough to eliminate the health risks of sitting for 8 hours.
The researchers suggest that this hour of physical activity need not be done all at once. Incidental exercise also counts! For example, you could ride a bike to work a few days a week, or get off the bus one stop earlier and walk the rest. You can stand up when talking on the phone at work, or walk around a nearby park with a co-worker instead of having a seated meeting. If necessary, set yourself a regular reminder on your phone to prompt you to get up out of your seat and walk around the office.
Theses are just a few tips to get you up and moving. Remember that just one hour a day and a few small changes to your lifestyle could have a huge impact on your health, and even prolong your life. Your body will give you a standing ovation for it!
*More information about this study can be found from: www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)30370-1/abstract