You’ve heard sitting is the new smoking right? “For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.” ~ Martha Grogan, Cardiologist, Mayo Clinic.
If you’re like me you never realized how much of your day you sat until you REALLY analyzed it and counted up the hours. As a trainer and fitness instructor, I do spend a great deal of my day standing, walking, moving. But when I started to calculate how much I sat during the day, the sum was higher than I originally thought. Let’s break it down and get real about how sedentary we can be and the effects it has on our health.
When you spend too much time sitting down, you inadvertently shorten your hip flexors and compress your lower back, which in turn affect your posture, biomechanics, digestion, and energy. Needless to say, paying attention to how long you’ve been sitting throughout the day is incredibly important.
Mindbodygreen.com broke down that the average person is sedentary (sitting/laying) for 21 hours a day:
- sleep: 8 hours
- sitting at work: 7.5 hours
- watching tv: 1.5 hours
- leisure time: 1.5 hours
- on the computer: 1.5 hours
- eating: 1 hour
- active/standing: 3 hours
Research shows that if we sat 3 hours less a day, it would add 2 years to the average U.S. life expectancy Calculate your daily sitting time.
Again this is an average analysis. But I’ve brainstormed some ways to decrease the amount of sitting we do during the day.
1. Walk More
Before you sit at your desk in the morning, start your day by moving. Walking opens your hip flexors and gets the blood pumping through your body. Walking is one of the most natural and wonderful things you can do for your body, and most people aren’t doing it enough. (Plus it’s free! If it’s free, it’s for me!)
Thoughtful ways to add in more steps to your day:
- Take the long cut- intentionally go out of your way to get the things you need, instead of emailing a work colleague who’s in the same building, walk over to their desk to talk, parking further away
- Walk to your co-worker’s desk/office when you need to speak with them
- Walking meetings – discuss issues while on a walk, use your phone to record anything you may need to remember
- Move your trash can away from your desk
- Leave your desk for lunch/breaks, going to the bathroom on a different floor
- Whether you’re at home or at the office one easy way to add a few steps into your day (and strengthen those legs) Either going up or down 1 or more flights will begin to increase your total daily steps, benefiting your health.
- Try a new activity: Zumba, dance lessons, geocaching, tennis lesson, barre class
2. Set an Increment and Stand!
For every 30/60/90 minutes you spend sitting, get up and walk somewhere to get the blood flowing again. Leave your lunch in the car so you have to walk to get it. The simple act of getting up every 90 minutes can help prevent the negative effects that sitting can have on your body
- Use Mindful bells for your computers to set increments to stand/move/and stretch
- Standing Desks – Whether you put a box, books, or the Skarsta from IKEA, raise your monitor and keyboard up to comfortable level to take standing breaks
(If you’re not used to standing for extended periods throughout your days, start with 5-10 minutes every hour.)
3. Make the Office your Gym
Grab your chair/desk and get to work! Okay, no, you don’t have to sweat in your khakis or button down, but moving is good!
4.Foam Roll any Tight Spots.
Stretch it out! Stretching out those muscles that get shortened/lengthened from our sitting posture (HELLO hip flexors) they need some TLC.
Foam rolling helps relieve any tight spots you may have in your muscles while improving blood flow and circulation. Start by foam rolling from your calves up to your hips. Roll the front, back, and sides of your legs and spend 5-10 minutes doing this every day. Over time, notice how this makes your legs and muscles feel.
Prevention is the best remedy, so find more opportunities to move your body!
The benefits of caring for your body daily go far beyond just the physical aspects. When you sit for too long, your body becomes stagnant. But when you move, you’re keeping your muscles, ligaments, joints, and blood flowing. These four actions allow your body to naturally detoxify, gain energy, improve posture and ultimately make you feel great!
Written by Kailyn Danhouser, EP-C; Personal Trainer at Elite Sports Club – River Glen & North Shore
Kailyn graduated from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse with a B.S. in Exercise and Sports Science. She is an American College of Sports Medicine: Certified Exercise Physiologist (EP-C), AAAI/ISMA: Certified Pilates Instructor, and Certified Diabetes Prevention Lifestyle Coach. Kailyn specializes in Functional Training, Group training, Special Populations, Weight Management, and HIIT. “I want to inspire people to find exercises that they enjoy doing every day. There are many opportunities all around us to move our bodies, we have to look for them. The exercises you do are better than the ones you don’t do.”
This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.