Too much time in a chair can cause cancer, blood sugar spikes, heart disease, mental health problems and even early death. Reading that, may make us want to toss the chairs out of our homes and offices, but of course that's not practical.
Working out every day doesn’t completely solve the problem either. As it turns out, the problem has more to do with how long our muscles are inactive rather than how much time we spend working out.
So what is the answer? Our lives are very sedentary—much more sedentary than our parents’ or even our grand parents’ lives. And as a result, we are a more sick society. Is there a way to fight the threat of our chairs?
Yes, there is. The answer is to get up and move.
It is really as simple as that.
Now, you definitely need to make time for an intense workout at some point during nearly every day of the week. That goes without saying. But beyond the workout, if you want to combat the threat of sitting, it is crucial that you sit less and move more.
What do we mean by move more? It’s just a matter of getting up and walking around, taking the stairs, going to the mail box, or visiting a colleague’s office rather than sending him/her an email.
The bottom line is that we’ve got to move more, and the secret is to not only increase the duration of time that we are moving, but also the frequency. In other words, we need to move more and we need to do it more often.
In fact, some suggest that we get up and move around every 20 minutes. Others recommend getting up every 60 minutes.
Does this seem like it would be distracting?
Actually, you will probably find that you focus better and are more creative if you step back from your work a couple of times every hour or so. The mind can only stay in laser-focus mode for so long before it needs to be recharged with a little rest. Taking ‘movement breaks’ will not only help your health, it will help your productivity as well!
Of course, since most of us are not used to taking frequent breaks in our work, half the battle is simply remembering to stand up and move. The solution is to simply set a timer to remind yourself. Decide how often you want to get up, and set the time on your phone, your computer or even an egg-timer on your desk. When the timer sounds, get up.
The next question becomes then, ‘What to do when you get up?’
Use the following tips and tricks to add some life-giving movement into your day:
- Hold walking meetings. Some people have found success in taking meetings outside. Walking along a park’s trail works just as well as sitting around a conference table.
- Install a treadmill desk. Treadmill desks are simply treadmills with a desk attachment upon which you can place your computer, phone and other office supplies. You can work while walking at a slow speed.
- Take the stairs. If you typically use an elevator to get to your office or your apartment, consider taking the stairs instead. You can also use the stairs to just get a little movement in during your sitting breaks.
- Keep hand weights handy. Engaging the muscles in your upper body is a great way to get your blood moving and give your metabolism a boost.
- Choose a different parking spot. Rather than choosing a close parking spot, choose one that will force you to have a good walk when visiting stores or arriving for work.
- Stand up when the phone rings. Make it a habit to not take calls sitting down.
- Mingle while standing. If you are used to sinking into a chair in the break room or at networking events, resist the urge; socialize on your feet.
It is worth the effort to find ways to sit less and move more. Your life depends on it!