Too many hours per day are spent sitting, in Britain people are spending, on average, 9 hours a day sat on their backsides. Sometimes sitting is unavoidable but there is such a thing as optional sitting – meaning that you can, and should, chose to stand up instead! Here’s me on the train, choosing to stand.
I think the 9 hours a day is actually underestimating a lot of people’s total time seated, let’s look at an example: you drive 30 mins to work, arrive at work at 9am, work at a desk until 1pm, sit down for 30 mins on your lunch break, return to your desk from 1.30 till 5, drive home this time in more traffic, it takes 45 minutes, you’re tired when you get in so you have a relaxing evening and you sit in front of the TV for a couple of hours. This very believable day adds up a whopping 12 hours of sitting! 😱
When you sit for longer than 4 hours, normal physiological functions within the body stop working properly: Your metabolic rate drops, your blood sugar levels are disrupted, insulin levels increases, your blood pressure increases, bowel motility slows, you put more pressure on your organs and muscles in the legs weaken. Excessive sitting has been linked to the development of:
- Heart disease
- Back ache
- Muscle degeneration
- Early death
Some are even referring to sitting as the new smoking, and we are all now more than aware of how bad that is for our health.
If you decide to make an effort to move more and sit less, attempting to add long walks into your day in unrealistic, it’s very likely that you won’t find the time and it’s healthier for us if we break up sitting throughout the day.
Start by trying to get at least 3, 10 minute walks in a day, if you are fortunate enough to be within walking distance of work, ditch the car and get ya walking boots on! Try to take a lunchtime walk, walking after you eat aids digestion, even if it’s just 10 minutes. Break up your time at your desk by standing up frequently –get a glass of water, do this often, the more water you drink, the more you’ll need to pee and that involves walking to the toilet! It’s a win win, lots more walking and most of us could do with getting more H2O anyway (aim for a minimum of 2L a day).
Whenever possible – chose the stairs over lifts or escalators, if you must drive to work, park further away – when you do your weekly shop, park all the way at the back of the car park – there are always plenty of spaces there. Make sure you choose to stand when you can, on the train, tram or in a waiting area. Ask your boss, ever so kindly, for a sit to stand desk – they’re awesome, giving you the option to work standing up! Explain to your boss that the less you sit, the less likely you are to get back pain or depression, the 2 leading causes of time off work.
If you are really keen to get moving more and sit less, invest in a device that tracks your steps – seeing your step count is really motivating and you can set the device to remind you to move periodically throughout the day.
I completely understand that sitting can be unavoidable and I’m not suggesting that you never sit but, thanks to our lifestyles and the convenience of cars, public transport and comfy sofas and chairs, chances are, most of us should be making an effort to reduce the amount of time we spend sat down on our butts.
If you have any more ideas about how to sit less and move more, please let me know!