Until three weeks ago, I didn't know about the dangers of sitting for long periods of time. But when a girlfriend mentioned the health risks of sitting for too long on her upcoming 16-hour-flight, I started thinking, "Wait ... There are health risks to sitting down?
So, I started looking into the effects of sitting for long periods of time. What I read deeply troubled me because I sit a lot.
Did you know that after sitting for more than an hour, the production of enzymes that burn fat in the body declines by a shocking 90%?
Other health risks from sitting include...
- Increased risk of developing heart disease.
- Increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
- Increased risk of dying prematurely.
Because we sit for long periods of time, we don't move around as much ... Sounds obvious, right? But then continue that thought ... That means as we fuel ourselves with food for a more active lifestyle, we end up just accumulating a surplus of fuel in our body, which accumulates in our blood stream. And all that adds up to a slew of health problems.
Tips for Moving Around More at Work
I quickly calculated how much time I spent sitting every day in writing articles at my desk, drawing at my art table, reading on my Kindle, researching articles, and blogging. I also added time spent in taking my children to their practices, watching them at practices, and relaxing at night by watching a movie. My total amount of time seated every day: 14 hours.
FOURTEEN HOURS. That's entirely too much time spent sitting. So, I started reading about how to incorporate more movement into my day. And I turned to some experts for advice for sitting less at work and then asked some of my MarketingProfs colleagues for real-world tips on moving around more at work.
Here's a look at what they had to say.
"When I'm brainstorming or need to work out an idea or am just writing or have ants in my pants (which is a lot) I walk circles around my house. Sometimes, I put my headphones on and do an awkward dance walk. When I worked in an office, it was a little more difficult to do that and not look like a complete weirdo, so I'd just walk to the bathroom at the other side of the building as my 'excuse' for wandering around ..." (Jo Roberts)
"What I try to do is when it is time for a walk I do that on my phone calls and meetings. I walk and talk." (Dana Ironside)
"My next desk will be one of those raises up and down ... I wear Jawbone UP (wristband) which vibrates at 60 minutes of non-activity. I try to use that as a trigger to get up and 'take a lap'---at least go upstairs and move around. Also, Shyla (dog) gets walked at least 3 X a day as part of my 'sedentary avoidance' routine." (Tobias Schremmer)
"I am more aware of the need to get up and "move it, move it" more often! I've even started setting an egg timer to go off every hour as a reminder." (Courtney Bosch)
"I had a piece of wood across the arms of our treadmill to act as a makeshift desk for a while. I would walk 4-5 miles a day while working." (Matt Snodgrass)
"I walk laps of the house whenever I'm on calls that don't require me to take notes (so I sit for my one-on-one calls with Sharon and creative reviews, but walk for brainstorming calls, and calls when I am not speaking." (Corey O'Loughlin)
"I have been known to unload the dishwasher on phone calls where I'm listening versus speaking since it's close to my desk." (Felicia Bonavita-Isoldi)
A Small Change Makes a Significant Difference
In addition to adopting some of that advice, I've been standing at my desk instead of sitting. As of this writing, I've been standing at my desk (and art table) for almost two weeks. I used items around the house to raise my monitor and keyboard, so I could comfortably stand and work. (You can find out more about working while standing in this nifty little guide, too.) I asked our director of publications, Vahe Habeshian, for advice because I know he stands while he works.
"Walk around the house every hour; do squats every now and then; lie down for 15 minutes every few hours; make a conscious effort to stand up straight---suck in your stomach and straighten your back... And make sure you have footwear that supports your arches," Vahe said.
The first two days were brutal; I wanted to sit every few minutes. I had to switch up my favorite purple flip flops for comfortable sneakers with good support. I felt ill at ease in my shoes and out of my element. A little awkward and lost. Sort of like in high school. Changing how I worked required an adjustment period.
I'm growing used to standing at work and like the immediate benefits. I can work on my posture, on sucking in my fluffy belly, on tightening up all my muscles. If I get antsy (which I always do), I just do some squats or march in place. (Reading email and marching are quickly becoming a routine for me.) I feel more alert and ready to go. Also, my extra 50 pounds suddenly melted away!
Well, that last sentence isn't true. I also need to exercise more outside of those times and eat healthier. But the good thing is that getting healthy is about making changes, about switching up how you do things, and approaching everything in a new light. Standing up at a desk is a seemingly small change that can make a world of difference in time.
So, do you sit for long periods of time at your desk or take breaks? Have any tips to offer folks who no longer want to be sedentary?