Sitting Is The New Smoking?

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about the ‘sitting disease.’  It’s basically the term used by many health professionals to describe our current state of sitting down all day and the health consequences that come of it.

We’ve become so sedentary that 30 minutes a day at the gym may not counteract the detrimental effects of 8, 9 or 10 hours of sitting.  Genevieve Healy, PhD

That’s pretty crazy.  Take a moment right now to think about how much time you spend sitting down, including commuting to and from work, watching television and working in front of a computer?  I was shocked when I did my rough estimate and I was at almost 12 hours of sitting a day!  I consider myself to be quite an active person but my day job keeps me sitting for long periods of time. 

So what does sitting all day do to our body?  According to WebMD, “sitting for a long time causes muscles to burn less fat and blood to flow more sluggishly. Both can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and other problems.”  My number one complaint from my yoga students is tight shoulders and back pain, which are also a result of sitting for long periods.  But here’s the bright side, since we recognize the problem we can develop a strategy to help offset some of the effects.  I brainstormed and came up with 5 ways we can all get out of our chairs!

1.   Find a trigger event: If you work in an office, your trigger event can be a phone or doorbell ringing or getting an email. Whenever you hear it/receive it, stand up.  You don’t have to leave your desk but do some neck/shoulder rolls and lift your legs a bit. Find an event that happens often enough to get you moving.

2.  Set a timer on your phone: I use the Alarmed App (another fun App!) each day to remind me to meditate. I’ve now added a reminder to stand up every 15 minutes.  Even if you aren’t able to get up every time the alarm sounds, it will remind you to get moving soon.

3.  Commercial Breaks:  While you are enjoying your favorite shows, stand up for the entire duration of the commercial break.  Take a walk around your living room or do some easy stretches.  If you’re watching a recorded program, don’t fast forward through the commercials and stand up!

4.  Social Media:  Instead of sitting down each time you check Facebook/Instagram/Twitter, etc. make a point to stand up. This could also be your trigger event if you are checking your accounts often.  But please watch your posture. Try to stand up straight and hold your phone up to your face, don’t force your neck down.

5.  Buy or make a stand-up desk:  Stand-up desks have really grown in popularity.  Many of them allow you to adjust the height of your computer depending on whether you prefer to stand or sit.  Some people even combine these desks with a treadmill to slowly walk all day as well.  It’s been shown to increase productivity and boost the immune system.

Many professionals say that it doesn’t matter how long we stand but the frequency of doing it that’s important.   I’m making a promise to myself to really make an effort each day to get moving and I invite you to do the same.

P.S. I stood up at least 6 times while writing this blog post. I'm inspired!