Sitting down is killing us. Numerous studies show that, whilst many of us need to increase our moderate to high-impact exercise, the really dangerous aspect of modern life lurks in every office, every home and every cafe. Yes, the humble chair is a wolf in sheep’s clothing; a veritable serial killer in your sitting room. We have so many labour-saving devices to take care of the graft that used to be just part of life, that physical labour has been all but eliminated from many lifestyles. We sit in cars and trains, we sit at work, and when the day is done we sit on the sofa. Many of us sit for hours every day, and it’s not what the human body is meant to do.
Whilst few of us want to return to life without the convenience of domestic appliances, cars or computers, we do need to make changes. Sedentary life habits are a huge causative factor in obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, depression, anxiety, and even some types of cancer. Even if you exercise regularly but have a job that requires a lot of sitting, you can only do yourself a favour by being a little more active during your day. Try some of these on for size:
1 – Use the 15 minute rule.
When you have to be at your desk, stand up every 15 minutes, have a stretch, jiggle about and then carry on your work.
2 – Walk away.
If you work from home, get up every 45 minutes and do something else for 10-15 minutes. Dance to the radio, bust out some push-ups, stick a wash on, sweep the floor (note: this a great way of stealth-cleaning your house), throw balls for the dog, anything! If you’re in the office and all of the above are likely to get you some funny looks / fired, can you get up and drink a glass of water, go to the bathroom that’s furthest from your desk, clean up the tea-room? Anything that means you’re not sitting for long unbroken periods. If your office is reasonably laid-back, tell your colleagues what you’re doing and why, then jump up and down and windmill your arms and just move, and see who else joins in!
3 – Stand up when you make and take calls.
Standing still is actually pretty hard, so you’re bound to fidget and move around if you do this. It all adds up!
4 – Suggest a walking meeting
Creativity and empathy soar when we walk alongside each other rather than sit still. If you have a meeting scheduled with just one or two people, why not ask them if they’d be up for a walk for at least the first part of the meeting? If you explain why you’re trying to move more, you might be surprised at how positively people respond. Most people just need a little nudge, so you’ll be doing a good deed as well as making meetings a lot more enjoyable and productive!
When I’m on the road I barely sit down except for meals, but when I’m back home doing yoga-planning or writing work, I sit down a lot. These simple tweaks increase my basic activity levels, lift my mood and help me to be more creative and productive, all whilst improving my chances of making healthy old bones. I’d call that a pretty big win-win!