For most of us in North America, sitting what we do best. Think about it. We sit on the way to work (in our car or on transit), we sit once we get to work, we sit on the commute home from work and then we sit when we get home because we’re so tired from the workday. A little TV time or reading or dinner with the family…and a whole lot of sitting! It’s clear that we need to sit less, and this applies to the more than 15 hours of waking time not spent exercising (source).
Sitting, many have said, is the new smoking. It’s killing us! Even for those who work out three times a week (which is more than many people), we still sit too much (source). In fact, every single hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes (according to a study through the University of Queensland). By comparison, smoking just a single cigarette reduces life expectancy by about 11 minutes, the authors said. That’s striking.
There are lots of stats out there. You could check them out, or you can take my word for it. The goal here isn’t to frighten you and hit you with fear about the dangers of sitting, but rather to remind you that there are ways that you can combat the diseases that can come from too much sitting. That’s the good news! And if the knowledge of what too much sitting can do to your body serves as a motivator to get you moving (or even just standing), then my work is done!
So, what can you do, as an office worker in downtown Calgary, an entrepreneur working from home or coffee shops, or a stay-at-home dad? Here are a few tips to combat the urge to sit:
• Start by being mindful. It’s easy for a lot of time to pass when we’re sitting, and while we might easily report on how much TV we watch, it’s harder to keep track of how long we’re sitting (which extends beyond the TV). Raise your awareness when it comes to sitting and make an effort to reduce it, little by little, each week.
• Use a standing desk at work. Although standing up frequently is better than constant sitting, I now believe that avoiding sitting completely is far preferable and has better metabolic effects for your body. There are some great desks you can buy (maybe your company would be interested!) but you can always make one as well. My husband propped some boxes and books up on a taller desk and made a modified standing desk - he rarely sits during the day when working from home now!
• When watching TV, stand up and/or walk around during commercial breaks. Use the time to throw that load of laundry in, or check on the oven, or even do a few push ups! Think of all the commercial time that could be used simply moving around the house. Or, if you’re of the Netfix or TIVO persuasion, do 5 squats at every break when a commercial would be there. It’s too easy to let episodes tick by with no natural breaks. Maybe we should bring commercials back for this reason! You don’t need a big space to see change!
We can always make a choice to move more, whether that’s walking to the bus or train station, standing up at work in between meetings or in the back of the room, or taking those commercial breaks to do more. Here’s to standing when we can sit and making those small changes every day! Live well & be well,