You know all those studies talking about the dangers of sitting too long, too often? Well, a new study analyzing all those studies shows that sitting too much is, indeed, bad for your health. Even if if you make a point of working out nearly every day.
The risk factors for all kinds of serious maladies go up the more you sit down. Here’s a link to a summary of the study, which was conducted by the University Health Network and published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Chances are if you have a sit-down job, this news makes you feel a little helpless. What are you supposed to do? Quit your job? No, you’re not. And I completely understand that helpless feeling. Before I became a trainer, my jobs all involved serious sit-down time: I have been a radio announcer, a reporter/editor/writer, and when I was in college I worked a switchboard operator. So I get it — right down to the feet that sometimes fall asleep from all the sitting.
“Avoiding sedentary time and getting regular exercise are both important for improving your health and survival,” said Dr. David Alter, senior scientist with Toronto Rehab, University Health Network (UHN), and Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, one of the study authors. “It is not good enough to exercise for 30 minutes a day and be sedentary for 23 and half hours.”
He recommends cutting your sitting time by 2 to 3 hours in a 12-hour day of sitting.
Here are some tactics to help decrease the time you spend sitting. None of this is rocket science but taking the time to do these things will add wellness and fitness your life.
- Make it a point to stand up every 15 to 20 minutes and move or stretch. You don’t have to stop working. You can still do some tasks while standing. Set a timer if you have to.
- See if you can get a desk that allows you to stand. One of my clients uses one of these and she reports that she feels less achy and more alert when she stands for part of the day. When I wrote my book, I made sure to stand up for at least half of the time I worked each day.
- When you can get a break, go for a walk, even if it’s just to the rest room.
- People who drive for a living should strive to walk, move and stretch when they stop.
- Take the stairs at work. One of my friends who works in a high-rise does this and she’s been able to avoid the weight gain that often comes with desk-bound jobs.
- Wear a device that tracks your movements, like a Fitbit. Use it for a reality check on how much activity you’re actually getting each day.