How much of your day is spent sitting? No, really, it’s a serious question and for many the answer is a lot longer than they think. Let’s add it up.
There’s the hour or so you spend sitting in a car, or bus, or train, on your commute to and from work. Eight or so hours sitting behind a desk. An hour’s sit down for dinner. An hour spent checking your personal email/Facebook page/reading the newspaper online. The hour or two spent watching television to unwind. And then, although it’s not technically sitting, you’ll be off your feet for another seven to eight hours when you head up to bed for the night. That’s up to 21 of the 24 hours allotted to every day.
Some medical professionals have come up with a rather tongue-in-cheek description of this problem; sitting disease. And while that may sound rather funny it’s really not, as researchers are demonstrating all the time that our sitting habits can contribute to everything from obesity and heart disease to depression and diabetes.
Get Up and Move To Conquer Sitting Disease
Until recently medical and fitness experts thought the best cure for sitting disease was an hour every day taking part in some kind of formal fitness program, whether that meant a trip to the gym, a run around the neighbourhood or a workout with a fitness DVD or maybe a fitness phone app.
But that thinking is changing. You see apart from that hour in the gym most people then do about the same amount of sitting for the rest of the day we just discussed. Researchers realise that there may be a better way; being up and about more often throughout the day can be healthier for you than doing a rigorous workout.
And it makes sense. It’s easier to fit into our busy lifestyles (more on that in a moment), it’s often cheaper (which is a factor for some) and it does not take as much deliberate effort as motivating yourself to get to the gym every day does.
Easy Ways to Add Extra Up Time to Your Day
So just how are you going to prevent sitting disease and get moving while still achieving everything you need to do in a day? Here are a few easy ideas:
Pick Up the Pace
One of the easiest things you can do is when you do walk, walk faster. It does not matter where it is you are walking – down the hallway at the office or the corridors at school, through the shopping mall or even just around the house. Pick up the pace even by a little (race walking everywhere would, we admit, be weird) burns more calories, strengthens your leg muscles, is excellent for your heart and lungs, and can even boost your mood and sense of vitality.
Find Ways to Take Those Extra Steps
There are lots of ways to add extra steps to your days and no doubt a lot of this is advice you’ve heard before. Take the stairs and not the lift. Park further away when you go to the shops. Take a short walk after you eat lunch and maybe another one at night. Instead of just singing along to music at home dance along too.
Here’s another easy idea. Don’t wait for the weekend to do all of your basic cleaning and tidying up, do a bit every day Additional benefits? Housework burns a lot of calories as well and you’ll have more free time at the weekend too.
Moving Around the Office More
Those eight hours spent behind a desk are a big problem for many. And no, you can’t just quit your job and become a park ranger, we know that. But you can add more standing time to your desk job. How about any of the following?
- Walk down the hall and speak to a coworker when you need to communicate with them instead of just sending a text or email.
- Stand up when you are talking on the phone. Even if you can’t walk around standing is better than sitting and every little helps. If you have the space pace a little as you talk.
- Advocate for walking meetings. Encourage people to ditch the conference room – or even the water cooler – and walk with you a while when you are brainstorming ideas or planning future projects.
These are just a few of the ways you can add extra up time to your days, there are many more, you just have to attempt to make sure you get up off your you know what more every day.