Most of us get that it is a good idea to do a little exercise everyday. Maybe like me, you’ve managed to work a trip to the gym into the routine, so you feel like you can check the exercise “3-5 times a week” off your health to-do-list.
Aah, but it is a little more complicated than that – moving three to five times a week, does not obliterate your sitting habits.
Because sitting is a health risk
Sitting is bad for you, especially if you’re in the habit of doing it for hours at a time.
The problem is SITTING, not
- sitting on the couch watching TV, or
- sitting in the traffic for 3 hours everyday, or
- sitting in the lazy boy chair chatting with friends on facebook, or
- sitting in bed reading a book.
The problem is SITTING, so sitting at that desk when you’re “working” is potentially a problem too.
Your brain may be working, but you’re all hunched up, effectively squishing the body juices and creating bad chemistry.
You’re a dead duck if you’re a sitting duck
Researchers from the University of Queensland found the longer you sit, the more health negatives you collect.
- Big sitters, even gym bunnies, end up with
- Larger waists (a sign of insulin resistance)
- Lower levels of HDL (the “good” cholesterol)
- Higher levels of inflammation i.e. more C-reactive protein and
- More fats floating around the circulation
Be a flitterer not a sitter
At this point you maybe thinking – sitting is what I do !
Maybe, maybe not.
Some people, sit down and stay down for hours. Others, flitter, they hop up and down on a regular basis.
Flitterers, maybe a little annoying and appear to be inherently less productive, but they end up being better off from a health perspective. This study shows they are definitely skinnier ! On average, their waist circumference was 4.1 cm smaller than the big sitters.
The sitting study
The Queensland study analyzed the sitting behaviours of 4 757 people, who were part of the US National Health Survey between 2003 and 2006.
All the participants were wired up with an accelerometer, a device that can monitor movement. They were strapped up to the device for a period of 7 days, so that the researchers could keep tabs on their sitting etc.. In addition to their “sitting” habits, a battery of other tests were done to assess their overall state of health.
Some of the participants seemed to never sit still, spending only 1.8 hours per day being sedentary, but most people clocked in a lot more “sitting” time.
Exercise at the office
This research proves what you’ve probably already suspected for some time – work is bad for you !
Sitting for extended periods of time is not constructive, even if it is productive.
Resigning is not an option, besides then you would be sitting at home, so what can you do ?
Being aware is a good start – look for ways to interrupt your sitting and schedule standing up into your work day, stick a post-it note on your computer or set up a timer to remind you to stand up for a minute or two periodically.
Some other suggestions to create a little less sitting at the office
- Stand up to take phone calls
- Walk to see a colleague, rather than phoning or emailing
- Have standing meetings or encouraging regular breaks during meetings for people to stand up
- Go to a bathroom on a different level
- Centralize things such as rubbish bins and printers, so that you need to walk to them. Your boss will love this idea, he/she can save a ton of money too.
- Give your brain a surprise
Move a little more often
Being healthy is not just about moving a lot, a little everyday. We also need to move a little, a lot.
Moving a little, often could be the difference between sitting with major health problems or avoiding them, so if you find yourself sitting for any length of time….
Hop up, do the hokey pokey and then sit back down.
PS. If you’re up to it, you might want to try the brain shuffle – this move is also good for the brain.Sedentary time and cardio-metabolic biomarkers in US adults: NHANES 2003-06. European Heart Journal (2011)32(5):590-597. G. N. Healy, C. E. Matthews, D. W. Dunstan, E. A. H. Winkler, N. Owen.
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Did you learn something new or do you have a different perspective ? I’d love to hear from you so post me a comment below