Most people in America drive to work, sit at their desk all day, drive back home, and then sit down to wind down after their long day. All this activity includes a lot of sitting which is bad for your health. Yes, experts are saying that “sitting is the new smoking”. A new study says that even if you exercise regularly, prolonged sitting can be harmful to your health. The benefits of exercise can be blunted if you spend most of your day sitting.
According to a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, sitting for extremely long periods of time is a risk factor for early death. After analyzing results from more than 40 studies, the researchers concluded that the more time people spend sitting at a desk, on the couch or in the car, the greater their risk of premature death, cardiovascular disease, cancer and especially type 2 diabetes. The damage from sitting is mainly due to reduced muscle activity. It may also adversely affect blood vessel function and increase food cravings, causing us to eat more and gain weight. Regular high intense physical activity would blunt these harmful effects but may not eliminate them entirely. The good news is that fitness experts say that there are certain actions you can take to reduce your sitting time. Here are some tips from a CNN article:
- Try to get at least 60 minutes of moderate intense exercise every day day. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health defines moderate-intensity activities as “those that get you moving fast enough or strenuously enough to burn off three to six times as much energy per minute as you do when you are sitting quietly”. Examples include brisk walking, recreational badminton, and tennis doubles.
- At work, try to stand for a few minutes every half hour. This can be done during phone calls, coffee breaks or meetings.
- If possible, use a desk that lets you work both standing and seated.
- If you drive to work, try to park your car far away as possible so that you can walk more.
- If you are travelling in a bus or subway, standing is best.
- If you are at home, leave your computer now and then.
- Avoid prolonged sitting while watching TV. Walk about or do some chores
Getting up every half hour, whether it’s to speak with a colleague or just to stretch your legs, will make you feel more energized and can even improve your productivity. As the American Heart Association recommends, “Sit less, move more”.