Did you know that sitting for long periods of time can increase your risk
of cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and depression? More
than 86 percent of the American population have desk jobs. This means,
that on average, including time spent lounging on the couch, we spend
more than 11 hours a day sitting down. Add a good night’s rest of
eight hours sleep onto that, and that’s a whopping 80 percent of
our lives being completely sedentary! So what can we do to reduce this
risks and live healthier lives? It’s simple. Stand up and move around.
Research has shown that standing up and moving around for as little as
two minutes, every half hour, can reduce your risk of certain disease.
But, while modern health guidelines recommend a minimum of 150 minutes
per week of moderate exercise such as brisk walking or vacuuming, studies
have actually shown that people who exercise in this way are still at
risk of experiencing health issues. Why? Because they do these activities
in short bursts and are otherwise sedentary.
“Regular exercise routines, when coupled with simple, more regular
habits, such as standing up and moving around more often, are actually
better, as the frequency helps to regulate our hearts, and improve our
blood circulation. It also helps to burn excess calories and tackle unhealthy
weight gain,” suggests
Christopher Celio, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician with
St. Joseph Hoag Health, and the medical director of DRIVE Wellness at Western Digital Corp. "Drive
Wellness is a collaborative initiative between Western Digital Corp. and
our medical and wellness experts at St. Joseph Hoag Health. The initiative
seeks to actively encourage Western Digital employees, which are in the
thousands, to live more active, healthy lifestyles, as well as provide
easy access to outstanding health care. And, although it's big project
that spans a variety of medical subspecialties, every day we say to Western
Digital's employees 'Get up, and move around more,'"
On average, when we are sitting at a desk, our body needs approximately
75 calories per hour, to keep our organs functioning. This is not a lot
when we consider that two pieces of whole-wheat, buttered toast contain
approximately 450 calories. That means it would take our body six hours
to burn all those calories sitting still. And let’s be honest here,
there’s no way we can function on just two pieces of toast for a
whole day. Aside from being unrealistic, it is also just plain unhealthy.
However, if we spent that time combining sitting, with standing and movement,
we would have burned all those calories in just three hours.
Standing more is a great way to help battle the risk of certain diseases,
but too much of anything can be bad for you, and standing is no different.
“Standing for long periods at a time is known to cause varicose
veins and contribute to back pain,” states Dr. Celio, “so
it’s generally better to mix sitting, standing and movement.”
Getting up every 20 to 30 minutes, standing for about eight minutes and
moving around for two minutes, is a good balance. “If you’re
going to work on your laptop while you are standing up, make sure you
maintain good posture,” he advises. Ensure your screen is resting
at eye level so that you’re not hunching your back forward.
The first step to making the change from being sedentary to moving around,
is to recognize when and where you tend to be the most sedentary and be
aware of how long you are sitting. Try setting an alarm that goes off
every half hour as a reminder for you to get up and move around. At first,
it may seem tedious and challenging, especially when you’re at work
and have lots of emails to write and phone calls to make. But, with practice
you will be able to adjust your behaviors and adopt healthier ones. This
type of half-hour-break system is also a great way to give your mind those
little stress-pauses it needs to stay happy and healthy.
Have you got any nifty tips on how to make sure you move more during your
work day? Share them in the comments below.
Learn more about
Dr. Celio. Learn more about
St. Joseph Hoag Health.