Let’s be honest.
The probability is over 70% that you are sitting as you read this blog post. You were probably sitting for the 60 minutes before reading this blog post, and you will probably sit for the vast majority of your day after reading this blog post. (Full disclaimer: I’m also sitting as I write this blog post)
You sit to eat breakfast. You sit in your car on the way to work. You sit in front of your workstation all day (and night). Then you sit in front of Netflix for three more hours trying to slow down your racing thoughts, unwinding after the day you had.
And the worst part is, you probably already know that sitting is killing you.
Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death. – Dr Levine.
If you have an internet connection, you’ve most likely come across the headline ‘Sitting Is the New Smoking.’ This sensationalist phrase, as coined by Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic at Arizona State University, is everywhere. Countless studies have correlated chronic sitting with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and kidney disease in women, colon cancer in men, numerous chronic issues related to obesity, and oh yeah…death.
But like a frog slowly boiling in water, you don’t realize anything is wrong until it’s too late.
But what do we do about it? If your job entitles that you sit in front of the computer for 8 or more hours per day, how do you overcome this slow death?
SEDENTARY vs SITTING vs STANDING vs MOVING
So we have established that sitting for long periods of time is harmful. Some people opt for having a STANDING DESK. There are a couple of GOOD health benefits for having a Standing desk:
- You are going to burn more calories.
- You will most likely increase your HDL cholesterol (aka the ‘good’ cholesterol).
- You may lose a little weight.
- You’ll probably be in a better mood.
- And even cooler, standing has an anti-aging benefit.
But standing for long periods of time means you will also be sedentary. (standing still in the same position for too long)
If you are regularly working a 12 hour shift like most people, you would need to exercise for almost 2 hours per day to reverse your risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Do you have two hours per day to exercise on top of a 12 hour shift with no lunch break? Me neither.
THE ANSWER IS CONSISTENT MOVEMENT
The key to better health if you live in front of your workstation like me is not a standing desk, a ball chair or hitting the gym at 5 am before a 14 hour shift.
The key to better health at your sedentary job is constant movement throughout the day.
With our schedules it is just not realistic to find dedicated time to exercise on a regular basis, and even if we did find that time, we’re either sacrificing sleep in the morning or we’re too exhausted at night to even think about going to the gym, getting on a treadmill.
Knowing that activity is the key to staying healthy has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders and has taken the guilt away of never having the time to exercise.
“Simply reducing inactivity by increasing the time spent walking or standing is a more effective way to help reduce certain health risks than one hour of physical exercise.”
Rather than thinking the only answer to getting healthy is the “all or nothing” approach, i.e. starting (then quitting) an intense diet & exercise program, try taking one baby step at a time.
Here are five simple ‘Easy Wins’ to be more active at work with little to no extra effort:
- Park your car as far away as possible in the morning (or if possible, walk to work)
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Ditch phone, email, and IM’s, and actually walk to speak to your colleagues in the office
- Walk during phone calls (I’ve gotten 7500+ steps on a single call)
- Step away from your workstation every hour and take a 5 minute activity break
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