It’s a fact of life that most of us spend majority of our days on our butts, sitting. We go from sitting in the car or during the morning commute, to sitting at our desks all day in front of a computer, to sitting during the drive or commute home, and sitting as we relax in front of the TV.
While sitting down behind a desk is a reality of life many of us are stuck with, it’s important to know that spending a huge chunk of our days on our butts actually has a number of health risks linked to it. A report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the average adult spends more than half their waking hours sitting—working, watching tv, eating, driving or commuting. All this could contribute to an earlier death, even if you exercise regularly. Sitting for long periods of time and may influence obesity and other metabolic precursors of major chronic diseases (type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and breast and colon cancer).
However, scientists say breaking up your periods of sitting inactively can do a lot to help. In fact, according to a study published in the Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, breaking up prolonged amounts of being sedentary can greatly improve metabolic health and its effects on your risk for those diseases. According to a study published in the online journal BMJ Open, you can gain up to two years more in life expectancy by reducing sitting to less than three hours continuously a day; and another 1.38 years from reducing excessive television viewing to less than two hours a day.
Going outside, looking at nature, and breathing in some fresh air, even just for a few minutes, can improve brain function and retention. According to the study published by the University of Michigan in the US, even just walking to a small park or cluster of trees could make a difference.
According to a Stanford University study, a short walk can boost your activity—whether it’s outdoors, around your office block, or even on a treadmill.
Of course, we’re also aware that that’s also easier said than done. Here are some ways you can change up your hours spent on your chair and reap the health benefits of getting off your butt.
If it’s a long, important call, head to a quiet spot in your office and stand up or pace around while walking. Even if it’s just in a small conference room or in the lobby, it’ll be a welcome change from sitting.
Do yourself a double favor—stay hydrated and stay on the move. Get up and take a walk to the pantry or water fountain and drink a glass of water every couple of hours.
More water breaks can also mean more bathroom breaks! To give yourself a little more walking room, try going to a bathroom on a different level, or one farther from your desk.
Whether it’s to go to the printer or filing room, reaching for something, or talking to your coworker, make it a point to stretch out your limbs every hour. Set a discreet alarm on your phone to remind yourself.
Even when you’re unwinding in front of the TV at the end of the day, it’s still important to lessen periods of prolonged sitting. Stand up during commercial breaks and do some stretches, or better yet, ditch the TV for a leisurely stroll.