How to Reduce the Health Risks from Long Hours of Sitting
A sedentary lifestyle increases one’s risk for health issues as commonly known. Weak, brittle bones (osteoporosis), poor circulation, weight gain, and poor cardiovascular endurance are just a few to mention.
Why is it a piece of common advice to stretch every chance you get when on a long flight? It is to avoid getting blood clots and swelling of the legs or ankles from sitting for long periods.
By now you’ve probably heard that sitting can cause health complications and even shorten your lifespan. If your boss won’t spring for an office full of treadmill desks, you can still stay by finding other ways to spend more time on your feet.
In fact, a recent study found that walking for just 2 minutes each hour can make a big difference.
That’s good news for the 80% of Americans who find it difficult to keep up with the minimum amount of exercise experts recommend. For example, the American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise.
There are many practical ways to overhaul a sedentary lifestyle. Try these suggestions for brief walks and other ideas to spend less time sitting.
Benefits of Sitting Less
1. Strengthens your heart. Sitting down slows your circulation and speeds up muscle loss, both of which take a toll on your heart.
On the other hand, physical activity helps to prevent heart disease and even reverses some risk factors.
2. Avoid illness. Prolonged sitting has also been associated with diabetes, cancer, and other conditions. A daily walk could mean fewer doctor visits and longer life. Stand, move around, stretch even in your chair.
3. Lose weight. Naturally, you burn more calories jogging than lounging on the couch. Think about how much better you look and feel when you stay trim. Plus, exercise is safer than crash diets that may not provide essential nutrients.
4. Enhance your mood. Sitting affects your mind as well as your body. Boost your spirits with a gentle workout. You’ll probably find yourself thinking more clearly too.
Suggestions for Two-Minute Walking Breaks
1. Break up tasks. Divide your assignments into 60-minute segments. That’s about as long as most adults can concentrate, so you may even increase the quality of your work.
2. Create triggers. If you still tend to lose yourself in the flow, develop signals for when to stand up. Maybe you want to program an alarm on your computer, on a Fitbit or Apple watch, or time yourself according to your favorite radio news program. You can always use any strategy to make you remember!
3. Engage in other light activities. Any gentle task can be substituted for walking. Tidy up the break room or do a few legs raises. If you’re at home, you could weed the garden or dance a few steps.
4. Talk with your boss. It may help to let your boss or coworkers know in advance why you’re changing your routine. They may want to join you,
Other Ways to Reduce the Risks of Prolonged Sitting
1. Exercise regularly. There is no need to expound on the benefits of exercise. While a two-minute walk is a good start, there are advantages to additional exercise. More intense workouts will condition your cardiovascular system, thicken your bones, and sharpen your mind.
2. Eat a balanced diet. Studies show that adults who sit more, snack more. Try drinking a glass of water or tea to curb your appetite.
Prepare healthy food you can nibble on anywhere, like yogurt or peanut butter on apple slices.
3. Stretch your hips and back. Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spine and hips. Stand up and stretch every hour.
Just a few stretches you can do in your chair:
4. Turn off the TV. At home, do you sit in front of the TV after sitting at your desk for eight hours? Visit the gym or go out with friends instead.
Hold onto your desk job while you take care of your body and mind. Strategic breaks and other healthy habits will help you live a longer and more active life.