Sitting. You know that thing we do eight hours every day at work. And then a few more hours at night in front of the TV or computer — or both!
Turns out it’s a pretty dangerous activity. Recent studies show that sitting for long stretches actually shaves years off your life.
You could say that sitting is killing us softly.
Sitting All Day Is Unnatural
When faced with a decision about whether or not I should engage in a given activity, I often give it the “is it natural?” test.
For example, is it natural to sit in a room by yourself and stare at a screen for hours on end? Nope. Not so many years ago, such behavior may have landed you in a mental health institution!
In general, sitting for long stretches of time is not natural. The original humans would not have lasted very long sitting on their butts all day.
Our bodies where designed to move throughout the day in search of food and water. Sure, there was some sitting, but not at the grand scale of our sitting frenzy here in the US.
It’s no wonder that our bodies are complaining. Sitting all day is unnatural!
Tips for Sitting Less and Moving More
When I started my current job a few months ago, my only reservation was that it was a desk job. I had read enough about the dangers of sitting to know that this type of job was not the best life insurance in the world.
So I started thinking about ways to sit less and move more throughout the day. Remember, it’s prolonged sitting that is especially dangerous!
- Get to know your wellness/HR person and request a Kangaroo Sit to Stand Desktop. This nifty contraption enables you to sit or stand while you’re working on your computer. (And if they won’t give you one, buy one!)
- If you do have to sit at your desk, make sure to get up at least once per hour. It can be a simple stand-up-and-stretch routine or you can go refill your water bottle. Consider setting an hourly alarm as a reminder. (Tips here.)
- Use restrooms that are far away. The other day, I bumped into my husband in my building (we work at the same college). I asked him what he was up to and he replied sheepishly, “oh, I’m just using the restroom.” (He’s clearly spent a good bit of time listening to my anti-sitting rants.) This is the way to go!
- Stand up when you’re on the phone. Unless you need to take notes or otherwise use the computer, make it a habit of standing up when you’re on the phone. (My former boss racked up 6-15 miles every day just by walking when he was on conference calls!)
- Use old-fashioned face-to-face communication. We’re all guilty of using online chat to talk to the person in the next office. Next time, consider going to see the person when you want to engage in real-time communication! (P.S. It’s natural!!)
Don’t Be an Active Couch Potato
It’s easy to think that once you’re done with your morning workout, you’ve done all the moving you need to do for the day.
Not so much.
People who exercise 30 minutes in the morning can still be classified as sedentary. In fact, there’s a name for these people: active couch potato.
Learning this was a real wakeup call for me. I thought I was immune thanks to my 45-60 minute morning exercise routine.
Nobody said life would be easy, but perhaps our lives have become too easy (at least for our bodies) — to the detriment of our health and wellbeing.
So get off your butt and move!
Disclaimer: No sitting took place during the writing of this blog post.