Is Sitting the New Smoking?
Most of us try to get our daily exercise checked off of our “to do” list either before or after work. We do this with the hopes of staving off health problems like diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol. OK and also to fit into our favorite pair of jeans.
However, a study from the University of South Carolina suggests that, if you spend most of your day sitting, daily exercise may not be enough. Researchers at the university found that men who were sedentary for more than 23 hours a week had a greater risk of dying from heat disease (by a whopping 64%) compared to men who only sat for less than 11 hours a week. And these were mostly men who exercised regularly. If you imagine that someone is a weekend warrior and doesn’t sit at all on weekends, those numbers suggest that sitting for 5 hours a day during the work week makes you 64 percent more likely to die of heart disease. Yikes! Most people I know sit at a computer for more than 5 hours a day. You?
So what are we to do? We can’t stop working (or going to school) and computers are not going away anytime soon… Most forms of transportation to get to work or school involve sitting. We need a little relaxing, down time after work and most of us find that sitting in front of the T.V. is the perfect antidote to the stresses of the day. So we sit… a lot.
Sitting has become a necessary part of our life, but there are ways to reduce the detrimental effects of being stationary. Here are some ways to beat the sitting blues:
Keep up with your exercise routine before or after work
Go for a 15-minute brisk walk on your lunch break
Take the stairs
Don’t email the person down the hall at work. Get up and go talk to them in person.
Take a phone call standing up.
Get an adjustable desk that allows you to alternate between sitting and standing at work.
Get a computer rest break program installed on your home and work computer and use it to remember to take micro-breaks (15 second breaks as well as longer, 5-minute breaks). Your smartphone or Apple watch can also be used for rest break reminders.
Decrease your T.V. watching time from 7 days a week to 4 or 5 days a week. Go for a walk instead or clean out the garage. Do something other than sitting.
All of these measures will not only help to decrease your chances of heart disease, but they will also decrease your pain levels associated with sitting. In a 2011 study published by the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, office workers in Portugal who added 15-minute stretching exercises, three times a week to their work routine reported less pain in areas of the body that were bothering them (such as wrist, back and neck) when compared to workers in the same office who did not do the stretching exercises.
Technology is changing the way we do business and, in turn, we need to change the way we treat our bodies to accommodate for the excess sitting and typing. Move more and try to fit physical activity into your day wherever and whenever possible.
The more breaks you take that get you up and moving, the healthier you will be and the less neck pain, back pain and wrist pain you will have.