"Sitting is the new smoking."- Quite the startling statement! How valid is it? Author Tom Rath, New York Times Best Seller of Eat Move Sleep, says that some research shows more people are dying from inactivity than smoking. Six hours per day of sitting poses serious health threats and those who already have health conditions are made worse by sitting, including depression, diabetes, and heart disease. The Mayo Clinic says that even an hour of vigorous exercise doesn't make a significant difference in someone who sits all day. The only solution is to get up and move, often. Even standing or leisurely movement is better than sitting. The question is, for those of us with a desk job or spend a significant amount of time driving or flying, what do we do?
1. When you can stand- do it! Don't get out of the car after a four-hour drive and head to the couch. Stay on your feet for a while. When traveling I factor in extra drive time in order to stop every hour, get out, and stretch for 5-10 minutes. When flying, use your airport time wisely. Don't sit and wait to board the plane- stand and wait. Better yet walk around. I even find myself opting to sit at the bar versus a table when dining so I can push my stool out of the way and stand.
2. By now you have heard of standing workstations. The investment is well worth it. Now a days you can get an adjustable workstation for around $200-$300. Or build your own simple non adjustable standing desk and get a drafting chair ($150) for when you feel the need to sit. The small investment is certainly worth your good health.
3. If you can't stand at your desk make sure you get up frequently. Experts say that getting up once per hour for 3-5 minutes can decrease your risks. Get up to fill your water bottle, deliver a message (rather than sending an email), walk a loop around the building, or spend time doing desk stretches. Equally as important, use your breaks and lunchtime wisely. Consider it a break from sitting!
4. Treat sitting the same as you would junk food, smoking, excessive drinking, stress, and all else that is bad for your health. Avoid it! Make it top of mind. Always be thinking, "How can I avoid sitting?". This way it will simply become the norm for you to get up and move every chance you get. And while you are it, grab someone and get them up and moving too!