Maybe you’ve heard this saying before – Sitting is the new smoking. But what does that mean? It used to be that “everyone” smoked, but now “everyone” sits. If I exercise most days 30-60 minutes, then I’ve done my job to reduce chronic diseases like heart disease – right? Well, that’s part of it.
It turns out that interrupting your prolonged sitting is just as important as exercising! I don’t know about you, but I sit at a computer for most of the day. Being sedentary is the enemy. But what if we can’t help it? And, why is prolonged sitting as risky as smoking?
In studies specifically studying the health impact of prolonged sitting, researchers found that regardless of fitness level, BMI or age, prolonged sitting had a significant negative impact on blood glucose, insulin sensitivity, waist circumference and triglycerides; ALL risk factors for chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. They found that even short (<5 minute) bouts of light activity every 30 minutes, to break up sitting time, reversed these adverse side-effects.
So, what can you do about increasing your activity when you sit all day? If you sit more then you’d like, here are 9 ideas to interrupt your sitting –
- Set an alarm on your cell phone for every 30-60 minutes. Make it your “Move It” time. Just a couple of minutes of stretching, even at your desk, is helpful
- Instead of emailing a colleague, get up and walk down the hall for a chat.
- At lunch time, eat for half the allotted time, and take a brisk walk for the other half.
- Keep tennis shoes under your desk and whenever possible, get colleagues to have “walk and talks” instead of sitting around a table. And, if that’s not possible, then stand at meetings. You’ll be surprised at how much shorter your meetings will be if everyone is standing.
- If you’re on the phone throughout the day, stand and move while talking.
- Stand on the bus or train while commuting.
- Take a class before or after work that requires movement.
- Walk quickly and take the stairs whenever possible.
- Use a pedometer to help you track how many steps you’re moving each day.
Most of us spend the majority of our day in a seated position whether we choose to or not. Make it your goal to focus on maximizing movement and minimizing sedentary behaviors.
Susan Levy has been on the journey of heart-healthy living for almost 25 years. She’s worked with hospitals in over 35 states to hone their messages about prevention and early detection. Susan is also publisher of the website The Well-Fed Heart which offers dietitian-approved recipes that take 5 steps or less and work for home cooks. Each week Susan offers a weekly blog, the “From the Heart Blog“, with her perspective on a health topic and how it applies to our lives, plus a new recipe.