In the age of computers and digital convenience, sitting often seems to be more rewarding than moving your body. We sit in almost everything we do – in the car or public transport, in the cinema, when having coffee with your friends, and more. However, it is not without its risks for your health – in fact, it has been revealed as a major risk factor to death and chronic disease.
World Health Organization states that the lack of muscle use in the legs may inhibit blood circulation throughout the whole body. In response, this might increase the risk of heart attack and impede the process of burning fats and sugars. Workplace health authority Dr Linda Friedland says there are five simple ways to avert the deadly effects of sitting:
1. Stand more often
Dr Friedland suggests to start doing more daily activities (like sending emails, or reading this article) by standing. However, it is important to remember that static standing is not much better than static sitting. “Standing increases your energy levels,” says Dr Friedland. “But simply swapping sitting for standing is not the only answer as static standing has its own problems such as exacerbating back pain.”
2. Take frequent stretch breaks
When you have to sit for a long period, getting up and stretching every thirty or sixty minutes is advisable, says Dr Friedland. “This provides an opportunity to take a breath and push your ‘pause’ button for a few moments,” she says. “It is a highly effective way to stimulate your muscle and nerve function. This increases the flow of blood throughout your body and brain, thus clearing waste products, glucose and fat from your bloodstream.”
3. Interrupt your day
The key here is to not let prolonged sitting times influence your activity for the whole day. “Opt to walk rather than ride for short distances and take the stairs every time you need to go to a meeting and entering the workplace,” Dr Friedland says. “Break up your day into 30 minute blocks of sitting and set an alarm to remind you to get up.”
4. Change your workspace configuration
When the cubicle makes you feel lethargic, maybe it’s time to change the chair for something more dynamic. “Although an increasingly popular approach is to switch to a standing desk, it’s quite a radical change for most people,” says Dr Friedland. “In the meantime, utilising an exercise ball for part of the day is an effective way to use more leg and core muscles and burn off extra calories.”
5. Try walk-and-talk meetings
Instead of desk or phone discussions, Dr Friedland suggests walk and talk session for a meeting alternative. “Walking increases your blood circulation, your metabolic rate and your fat burning by more than a hundred percent.”
Buffering the negative effects of too much sitting is as simple as building movement, and regular breaks into your daily routine. For more information on workplace health issues, visit lindafriedland.com.