Do you sit for six hours a day or more? Many people who have desk jobs or spend hours in front of the TV or computer don’t realize that excessive sitting can pose serious health risks leading to a shorter life expectancy.
I work in an office setting where I sit for the majority of the day. Fortunately, I can mix it up a bit by walking around the building to work with other departments and stand for some of my tasks like mailings and packing boxes. But, I still probably sit too much.
What are the risks of excessive sitting?
Prolonged sitting will significantly increase your risk of the following:
- Metabolic syndrome – a collection of health conditions including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess belly fat and abnormal cholesterol levels
- Type 2 diabetes
- Death by heart disease and cancer (up to 50% higher risk of death compared to those who stand for two hours more a day)
But I exercise regularly…that means I’m safe, right?
Not necessarily. Even if you spend several hours a week exercising, you’re still at risk for health concerns if you spend the rest of your day sitting.
I’ll admit it: I spend A LOT of time at the computer working on my blog, posting on social media and catching up on my favorite shows on Netflix. Over the past few months, I quickly became a lazy bum. When I wasn’t cooking or cleaning, I was sitting on the couch. On top of the several hours I spend sitting at work, I was sitting for a good four hours or more at home. That all changed recently.
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After seeing articles floating around on the dangers of sitting too much, I showed my boyfriend the health risks and told him it would be beneficial to have a standing desk. Hint taken. He surprised me one day with my own standing desk to use at home that he built out of scrap wood from his place of work. Needless to say, I was super thrilled with this gift, and now I spend at least two extra hours a day standing while I work at my computer.
What are the benefits of standing more?
If you decrease your sitting time by at least two hours a day, you may:
- Increase your life expectancy
- Burn more calories
- Increase your metabolism and have more energy
- Use more muscle activity that can help break down sugars and fats in your body
What can you do to change your excessive sitting habits?
- Build or buy a standing desk (Where to buy)
- Walk while you work with a treadmill desk (Where to buy). Here’s a good DIY treadmill desk tutorial by Healthy Living How To if you already have a treadmill and want to add a desk.
- If your job allows you to do so, take a break every hour to walk around for a few minutes or move on to another task that involves standing.
- Talk to people in person at work – walk to another office rather than calling or emailing
- Schedule walking meetings
- Stand and/or pace while talking on the phone
- Exercise lightly while watching TV/movies (stretch, walk on the treadmill, etc.)
Keep in mind: Staying in any one position for too long can be harmful for your body. If you choose to use a standing desk, make sure you still move around! Stretch every 20 minutes, shift your weight often, take breaks to walk around or play music to dance while you work (yep, I totally do this sometimes).
Just two more hours a day spent standing or walking around can help you avoid risks to your health and increase your life expectancy.
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Thanks for reading! I’m Alex from Caretactics, where I blog about natural living, real food, mindfulness and wellness. My goal is to use my writing to share information that will lead you to improve the world by caring about others, the environment and yourself. I believe in the healing power of real food and have a love for all things natural.
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