Do you have a job that requires you to concentrate while seated all day? Do you do regular exercise, maybe even walk, jog or ride a bike to work, and think you have done enough exercise for the day? Or sitting most of your days doesn’t bother you, but you tend to feel certain pain in your spine or various areas of your body? Chances are, you have already considered your options, how to move more when sitting most of the day, or what exercise you could do to take a break, get your circulation going and move your body parts.
In my observation, not only are we very different in the type and quantities of exercise we need regularly, but also in our ways of sitting. Some of us are more than comfortable sitting through their entire workday, while they claim that going to the gym or jogging, or classes is enough. Others can’t stand sitting. I know this for a fact because I’m one of them. With a business background, I was one of the office employees who had to sit through an 8-hour working day, and it was tough! Until we moved to a modern office in my last job, where I was offered a hydraulic lift desk, and ever since I have been trying to stand most of the time!
Getting Consciously Active versus Sitting Most of the Day
According to a recent American study, at least 50% to 70% of people spend six or even longer hours sitting while working, and 20% to 35% spend at least four hours watching TV. Perhaps while sitting as well. Although we are becoming more conscious of making better health choices today, the study has shown that if Americans managed to reduce their sitting time by half, they could not only become much healthier but could add several years to their lives. So, let’s take a look at how our sedentary lifestyle impacts our life.
Being active or getting a bit creative to move around more is not rocket science. On the contrary, when you make it a habit to find time to fit enough exercise into your busy schedule, you will look forward to it! Modern, health-conscious companies also encourage taking a bit of a break and doing some exercise for better work performance, and perhaps they are also aware of how it affects their workers’ mental health. Everyone knows these days of the harmful effects of sitting too much, yet not all of us take this as seriously as we should.
Sitting or lying down too much is the worst thing you can do for your body’s circulation. It enhances your chances to develop chronic health diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers, but it also badly affects your spine joints, and muscles. Because we are not built to sit all day! We are built to stand up and switched to this lengthy sitting lifestyle not too long ago!! Why is it essential to have optimal body circulation? It provides sufficient levels of oxygen and blood to your organs, which makes your body function well. It is necessary for your longevity!
How Does Too Much Sitting Harm Your Body?
It is very bad for both your bowel movements, or digestion, so it slows down your metabolism. You should think of it this way: your small and large intestines together are about 8 meters long. Imagine if they are being pressed for hours and hours daily due to sitting! On the other hand, when you are standing or moving, your bowel movements are not blocked, and your circulation flows better. Of course, it is harder to accomplish this for bedridden, or older people. But they should also strive to do their best to move as much as they can, starting gradually, even in bed.
Among the many harmful effects that too much sitting causes are painful and stiff neck and shoulders. Having too much stress can also add to this. You can also recognize varicose veins developing which aren’t generally dangerous. Sitting most of your time can badly affect your mood, could lead to mental problems like anxiety and depression. One of the biggest problems, to which our eating habits can also add, is weight management. It is hard to achieve optimal body weight, and fat-muscle ratio if you don’t move enough.
More dangerous could be diabetes that can even develop after lying in bed for at least five days at times. According to research people who sit more have about 112 % more risk to develop diabetes. Deep vein thrombosis usually happens after too much sitting during a journey in a car or plane. It is quite dangerous, as the blood clot starting from the leg travels up the body and can reach the lungs, which can lead to pulmonary embolism! Recent studies also suggest that sitting unhealthily can trigger some types of cancers, like lung, colon, and uterine cancers!!
What Can You Do Instead of Sitting?
- If you have a sitting job, and work from the home office, build a standing workstation. You could use a larger chest of drawers. I purchased one for this reason specifically. Or place a box or other furniture on the top of your desk, or any other furniture. You should find something at home if you use your imagination!
- Stand up every hour. Put a reminder on your phone or laptop, not to forget! Get up, walk, and do a few minutes of exercise. Focus both on moving every part of your body, including stretching your spine, moving your limbs, doing some muscle work like squats, or walking a bit.
- If you have steps or an exercise machine in your home, use it for a few minutes until you start breathing heavily. Or walk outside your apartment and use your staircase to exercise.
- Use the stairs whenever you can instead of the elevator or lift! I only use the lift up to the 5th floor to help carry up groceries.
- You could walk or run to work if you can afford it. If this is not an option, try to park your car further away, and make time to walk at a higher speed at least 15-20 minutes daily.
- Get creative with your meetings! You could hold a walking meeting now and then. It could get your brainstorming ideas flowing, and you could encourage your co-workers to join you in this! It could not only be fun but make your work more effective!
- Instead of emailing those colleagues who are within reach, get up, walk to them and talk to them! Being more interactive with a personal touch, and moving around a bit, can only be a bonus to your business!
- Do you save time for exercise during your lunch break? It could be fast speed walking, going for a jog, or again, stretching and strengthening muscle exercises. If you add it to your daily regime and make sure not to skip it, your body will be very grateful, and so will your health. If you find it hard to stick to it regularly, try to find an accountability partner or reward yourself with something you like after each week. I found the latter to work great.
- Do any freestyle move at home that feels good to you. Listen to your body, it will show the way! Dance at home like nobody’s watching! Use one of the many exercise videos available online whenever you feel you need inspiration!
- Choose the longer path wherever you go. Add sunny walks to your daily schedule whenever you can, it doesn’t only benefit your health, but heightens your mood!
- If you have a balcony or garden, spend as much time as you possibly can, working there. Play with your pets or kids. Walk regularly barefoot on the grass.
Looking at all the very damaging effects of sitting and lying regularly for longer periods, and not moving regularly, we have to change our mindset about how crucial it is, no matter how busy we are! We cannot use this as an excuse anymore, as our health and immune system matters more than ever in our pandemic-ridden era! Therefore, you should stay as physically active as possible to improve your energy levels, bones, and muscles strength, health state, and chances for longevity.
Additionally to avoiding sitting, include regular exercises in your schedule, the more versatile, the better! You could do indoor exercises when the weather is bad, such as muscle strengthening like sit-ups, squats, and lunges. Or do typical indoor exercises like yoga, pilates, martial arts, indoor rock climbing, swimming, squash, badminton, etc. If you haven’t yet started and need inspiration, put on your favorite songs and start exercising today! Finally, don’t let aging get in your way!! The more effort our elderly put in even above 70, the stronger they will get. We have to motivate our elderly to move more for a healthier society!