The act of sitting down has become an engrained part of our modern lives - for most of us it’s how we spend the day working, what we do when we’re eating, commuting to places and also how we unwind or relax (e.g. watching T.V).
It’s safe to say, the majority of us are quite sedentary and it can bear great consequences to our health and wellbeing.
The good news is - we can do something about it.
Here’s some simple tips:
Get up and walk every hour - sounds simple enough, but when we’re engrossed in work or our favourite T.V. show, hours can pass before we’ve even taken a single step or any kind of movement for that matter. Get into the habit of squeezing in as much movement into your day as possible and create more opportunities for yourself to move - whether that be getting up to get a fresh glass of water every hour, pacing or going for a walk while you take a phone call, or doing a lap of your office or workspace on each trip to the restroom. Little steps add up to big strides in the long-term - so don’t underestimate the small movements you can fit in during the day.
Start or end the day with exercise - during work hours, it can be difficult or unrealistic to get much more activity in than the little bouts of movement suggested above - yet studies have shown that 1 hour of moderate intensity exercise per day is needed to offset the ill effects of sitting for long periods. The best way to achieve this? Schedule in an hour’s long walk or workout outside of working hours, and give your body a longer period of movement with maximum health benefits. This will not only offset the risks of prolonged sitting, but will also improve your energy levels, enhance your mood and increase your productivity during the hours you are sitting down and working.
Get a fitness tracker - sometimes we need a little extra push or motivation to actually get some movement in. A lot of fitness trackers - e.g. Fitbits and Apple Watches, will automatically tell you when you’ve been sitting for too long and to aim for a certain amount of steps per hour. A simple buzz from your wrist is enough to get you up and moving, and seeing a tangible value for your active hours or daily steps might just be the encouragement you need to keep them as high and consistent as possible.
Invest in a standing desk - standing certainly requires more effort and therefore more calories to be burned than sitting - so it may be worth making the switch to a standing desk where possible. This will also help offset the joint and muscular aches associated with long periods of sitting down, and will keep your core engaged and posture straighter without much effort needed on your behalf. With many of us still working at home for social distancing measures, now may be the perfect time to customise your work environment and make sure it’s one that’s benefiting your health for the long-run.