Written by Erin Phelan
(3 min read)
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Most of us spend a lot of time sitting, whether it’s at a desk, behind a wheel, or in front of a screen. The average Canadian sits between 7-10 hours a day and this has poor effects on our health. Experts say we should spend 15-30 minutes per hour standing during the day.
Referred to as the new smoking, the sitting disease is a term used to link 34 chronic conditions that are commonly associated with lack of physical activity or excess sitting. A sedentary lifestyle has become the norm for many, and sitting for long periods of time has been linked to an increase in heart disease, increased blood pressure, obesity, back pain, diabetes and some types of cancer.
If you sit regularly for 6 hours a day or more, you are putting yourself at risk! That sounds scary, but it’s easy to adopt new behaviours that will combat your chances of catching the sitting disease.
But why is sitting so bad for you?
When we sit, our muscles aren’t contracting, which means that the blood flow is disrupted. This can cause changes in our blood sugar levels and insulin release, which is why sedentary behaviour has been linked to diabetes.
If you sit for long periods of time without getting up and moving around, you increase your production of fibrinogen– a protein which has been linked to cardiovascular disease and deep vein thrombosis.
If you think hitting the gym every day gives you immunity to this disease, think again: Even if you exercise regularly, you still need to counteract the harmful effects of sitting. So stand up! Literally, figuratively and in every way you can – stand, move and refuse to succumb to the sitting disease.
Here are a few creative ways to add more vertical movement to your day:
- Set a timer on your phone and get up from your desk every 20-30 minutes. If you can do this every 15 minutes, great! Experts say that we should spend 2 hours out of every day standing at work. If you’re in the office, schedule walking meetings to help hit this goal.
- Spend at least 15 minutes standing each time you use a screen or when taking phone calls.
- Try yoga in your chair: One of the best stretches for digestion and for spinal rotation is the Seated Twist. Here is how to do it: Sit at your chair, push back from your desk and take your right hand to your left hip. Look over your shoulder and breathe through the twist, then switch sides (Hint: You can also do this standing
- Do chair squats: This is a way to add more activity to your workday and combat sedentary behaviour. Stand and move your backside away from your chair: gently squat down, keeping your back flat and shoulder blades back. When you feel the chair under your butt, stand up again, squeezing your glutes together.
Bonus tip: Consider adding a standing desk to your office setup. This will help you sit less, and you can incorporate micro-activities like calf raises or lunges throughout your day
If we stand together we can fight this disease! Use these tips to help you get started.
Join the conversation: What other ideas do you have to stand more and sit less?