Is sitting the new smoking? Does your desk job put your health at risk?
“Sitting Is The New Smoking” was the headline in many articles run this winter. Does that get your attention? It certainly got mine and I have continued to think about it through the long winter we had and as we move into warmer weather. Though I exercise regularly, sitting much of the day still may be bad for my health.
How much sitting are we doing?
Research shows that the average American spends over 9 hours per day sitting! Though, I rarely sit for too long without getting up – over the course of the day I am sure I fit into that picture like much of our population. We sit at our desks for work, on the computer at home, watching TV, reading a book, checking on social media. The list is long of all the activities that are spent sitting.
How is it affecting our health?
The bad news is sitting for long periods of time has been shown to:
• Slow the body’s metabolism. • Increase triglyceride levels. • Decrease good HDL cholesterol. • Decrease sensitivity to insulin. • Increase risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, some forms of cancer and death.
Research has shown that individuals who sit for long periods of time have lower life expectancy, slower metabolisms and higher weight.
One of the problems
We are simply not paying attention! It is such a normal part of our everyday life that we don’t realize how it may be impacting our health and how simple it would be to make some changes.
Get up and get moving!
Slowly incorporating more standing and movement into your day could go a long way to improving your health. Here are some ways that can help you get started:
1. Standing or treadmill desk. These have become more and more popular and there are a multitude of options available at every different price point. 2. Stretch throughout the day. Take a few minutes each hour to get up and stretch your body. 3. Sit on an exercise ball. 4. Get up and walk to talk with a colleague or stand or pace while talking on the phone. 5. Schedule walking meetings.
I purchased an Ergo Desktop for my desk and have really enjoyed standing more of the day. I don’t spend all day standing, and in the morning I find I have less endurance for standing. But after I have been sitting for a while, my desk easily adjusts so I can stand up comfortably. I slip on my tennis shoes and give my glutes a rest. It feels great for my body and I feel good knowing that I am doing something good for my health.
Making it a priority Being physically active takes a commitment to making it a priority. Though taking time for scheduled exercise is still very important, scheduling time for structured exercise may be a challenge.
Consider how you can build more movement into each day, prepare yourself with proper equipment (good shoes, equipment that fits your body) and make a change today – the benefits are worth the effort.
Lynda Binius Enright, MS, RDN, LD, CLT
Be Well Nutritional Consulting
Click here to learn more about Lynda Binius Enright, Be Well Nutritional Consulting and making healthy living a part of your life.