Too Much Sitting!

The habit of “how long we sit at our desk” is becoming a trending topic. Studies are linking prolonged periods of sitting to an increase in the risk of hazardous health issues like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and even cancer. A more disconcerting note is that we may not be able to counter the risks by complimenting the habit with regular exercise.

It may be a little early to tell whether the research provides a valid link. However, regardless of the medical research, paying some attention to the data has merit. It’s obvious we currently exist within a very sedentary culture, and it’s continuing to get worse. The fact that we sit at a desk for 7 or 8 hours a day may not be the root cause but it’s certainly compounding what some might call a sitting epidemic. Let’s remove science from the equation and simply look at some basic facts in today’s culture:

  • We work much longer hours, which makes coming home to plop down on the couch so much more enticing.
  • As housing prices continue to rise, it pushes us further outside the city (where our jobs usually are) to purchase a home which increases the commute.
  • We live in a world of screens (tablet, TV, mobile device, computer) which require us to be still while using them.
  • With the advent of video streaming services like Netflix, binge watching is now a hobby.
  • Socializing these days is more likely to be done via a “tweet”, “like”, “share”, “pin”, “video”, “pic” or “post” instead of going out to connect with a friend face to face.
  • Also, with the average household having more screens than people the likelihood of ending up in front of a screen is high.

Therefore, it is no wonder sitting has become a topic of concern. However, the problem is deeper than the time at your work desk – it’s linked to the culture of today. Like generations before us, a work day usually required people to be stuck at a desk for 7 – 8 hours (a fact likely not to change anytime soon), but that didn’t necessarily translate into the health issues now tied to “sitting at a desk”. It is the other factors in addition to the workday sitting (a necessary evil) that’s creating the problem.

It would make sense to pay some attention to your daily sitting habits (both mandatory and leisurely) and figure out how to reduce any patterns of extended sitting. If you can’t change your work situation maybe you can tweak it as well as revise some of your leisurely habits to reduce the amount of sitting. Some ideas to consider:

  • Avoid bringing lunch back to your desk – take a walk (not a drive) and eat somewhere else (even if you end up sitting there).
  • Try having a “walking meeting” with colleagues – it’s said that movement which increases blood flow can improve thinking and creativity.
  • Explore whether you can leave work early and continue working remotely – yes, you’ll still sit but you’ll break up the prolonged sitting in one spot.
  • Get rid of your cable tv package – the more entertainment options you have, the more you watch.
  • Take “binge watching” out of your vocabulary – pace yourself and watch those 10 episodes over 10 days instead 10 hours straight.
  • If none of your friends are active – it’s time to find some new ones!
  • Bring back the “let’s go for a walk” activity.

Make a commitment to turn off, plug out and thumb down when you can and let’s take back our health – and we don’t need any more research to tell us we should! For more ideas on things to do, visit our Activity Guide.

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