Sit Less, Move More, Live Longer
Standing Workstations Coming to an Office near You!
Its’ a huge part of all of our lives. Even if we are active outside of work, we still spend majority of our time each day week, sitting down at a desk behind our computers typing away. We’ve known for many years that getting enough physical activity and eating healthful foods is the recipe for overall long term health, right? Well, things got a little more complex and little less clear when a study released earlier this year, highlighted that even the daily moderate-to-intense exerciser may be at long term health risk. One health expert has gone so far as to say, “Sitting is the new Smoking” to explain the phenomenon. Nothing like increased chronic disease and mortality risk references in the opening paragraph to garner your attention. I promise, it gets better from here!
Let’s face it, it’s not like we live in a world where it’s practical to be physically active all day long. We live in the age of connectivity via screen time; sitting meetings and environments that are geared towards making being sedentary the easy thing and sometimes our only option (think escalators, elevators, trains, taxis). What is a working professional to do when concerned about their long-term health, while also busy juggling the demands of clients and the needs of their busy home lives?
The solution, researchers say, isn’t as straightforward as we once thought. Based on a study released earlier this year in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, it is no longer believed to be effective to sit for the average six (or more) hours at work and then head to the gym afterward in an attempt to reduce our risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and untimely death. That’s because evidence suggests that the negative effects of extended periods of sitting cannot be counteracted by brief bouts of strenuous exercise. The answer, as the most recent research has shown us, is to incorporate standing, pacing and other forms of activity throughout your normal day. What’s more is that those 30-60 minutes of physical activity that are recommended for adults to achieve each day for overall good health? Those can be broken up into intervals and achieved on-the-go as you dominate your day. 5 minute interval stair sprints before lunch anyone?
There are many ways to improve your health throughout the workday. Here are a few:
- Behold the standing desk. Once a curious proposition, used by eccentrics – now a health conscious, smarter way to work and one of the best ways to combat a sedentary day in the office. Simply put, the only way to reduce or eliminate the negative impact of prolonged sitting is to not do it. Metabolically speaking, standing desks also reign superior to the seat. Standing burns 1.36 more calories per minute than sitting. If you multiply that by 8 hours, you’re talking about 500 more calories burned in a day.
- Take a 5 minute standing or walking break. Go outside, do laps around the office, walk the stairs. Or just stand and stretch at your desk. As little as 5 minutes of time spent up and on your feet will aid in promoting circulation, which slows when we sit for long periods. Also, a growing body of evidence shows that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity and that skipping breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion. Find time to schedule these in throughout days when you find you are sitting for prolonged periods of time.
- Walk-and-Talk Meetings. Get out from behind the desk, and take your next internal meeting on the fly. Walk around the inside of your building or outside as you talk in lieu of sitting in the office. Walk-and-talks are best for exploring an idea, building a shared purpose or getting to know a co-worker.
- Pace out the Call. If you are in an office or have the ability to stand while taking a call, give it a try. Consider pacing or stretching while on the call. Sitting for long periods promotes a tighter and shortened hip flexor muscle which can lead to limited range of motion and stride length over time. Counteract this imbalance with a standing hip flexor stretch while on the phone and take multi-tasking to a new level!
At Performance Unlimited, we subscribe to 3 part formula for Effective Health EVERY DAY:
- Train Right
- Move Throughout the Day
- Eat Clean
What else can you think of? What simple, small changes do you engage in to incorporate moving more and sitting less at work? I’m always looking for new ideas to share with our clients, so don’t hesitate to let me know you’re thoughts!