To Sit, or Not to Sit, that is the Question
You may have read recently that sitting is bad. It’s even been referred to as the new smoking. After just one hour of sitting, a biochemical change occurs that slows your metabolism and begins to store fat. Extensive sitting, like at a desk job or binge-watching shows on your couch all weekend, can increase your risk for heart and kidney disease.
What makes this news feel even worse is that if you add a regular workout routine to your New Year’s Resolutions, or change up your current fitness program, the damage from all that sitting cannot be reversed. Don’t go modifying your workspace to incorporate a standing desk just yet though, because standing all day can also have negative effects on your health.
So what’s the answer? The actual problem appears to be sitting still with no movement, and not just sitting, that damages our health. The point is to get the blood flowing through our muscles. Fortunately, this doesn’t require vigorous exercise like sprinting down the office hallways or jumping rope in our cubicles.
Here are five things you can do to minimize or eliminate the damage of sitting:
- Stand up every 20 or 30 minutes for two to three minutes of activity
- Walk to the water cooler or take a restroom break
- Do a lap around the office or your home
- Or keep a mini step machine at your desk or near your couch
- Download a timer app on your phone or computer to remind you when to move
- Sit on a large exercise ball instead of a chair
- The act of simply keeping upright may be enough movement to prevent the damage from inactivity
- Incorporate a treadmill desk into your workspace
- This allows you to move and work at the same time
- Even a slow pace of one mile an hour is enough to be beneficial
- Downside: They start at over $600.00 and have no option to sit
- Stretch your hip flexors once every day
- Here are 12 types of stretches to try with video demonstrations
Not only was I concerned enough about the health risks to put some of these into practice myself, but I also have an arthritic autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis which is more painful when I’m inactive. So about a week ago I raised my desk height so I could stand or sit while working. Because leaving my desk every 20 minutes or so was too distracting and unproductive for me, I placed a mini stepper machine at my desk yesterday. Directly behind the stepper, I have a stool. I alternate between stepping and standing on the stepper, for instance, while I type, with sitting on the stool as I read email or use my mouse. The result is that I am continually stepping, standing up, or sitting down. I can even push the stepper pedals while I’m sitting on the stool.
Let me know what works for you and if you have additional suggestions!
For further information about the health risks when you sit visit:
For more standing desk options visit: