It is no secret that the vast majority of our population is sedentary. We sit while we drive to the office, where we’ll likely spend our day sitting, and then we get back in our cars to sit on the way home to sit while we eat dinner, and end our days relaxing as we sit in front of the television. Of course, there’s walking and standing involved in our daily routines, however, the average adult spends 50 to 70 percent of their lives sitting.
Perhaps you’re still sitting as you continue to read this blog, because you’ve found a way to beat the system…you work out. Good for you! But, I hate to break it to you, the recommended 30 minutes of exercise per day, does not undo the 8+ hours of sitting you’ve done. We need at least two hours of standing during an 8 hour work day; it doesn’t have to be two consecutive hours, it can be intermittent standing breaks.
What’s the big deal you may ask? Well, let’s put this into perspective: Every hour that a person over the age of 25 watches television reduces their life expectancy by 21.8 minutes. This statistic is quite staggering, when you consider the amount of time you actually sit during the day (television has nothing to do with your decreased life expectancy, by the way, it’s the sitting that does). In comparison, if you were to smoke a single cigarette, your life expectancy only decreases by 11 minutes. Of course, we’re not saying stand up while you smoke at work, we’re just giving an example here, folks.
We can tell you from our personal experience here at the clinic that increased sitting time has a direct correlation to back pain, hip pain, inhibition of the gluteus muscles, tension in the hip which leads to knee pain, neck pain, and upper back pain just to name a few.
So, what can you do about it? Here are 6 simple things that will help get you on your feet throughout the day:
1. Stop trying to get that employee of the month parking spot. We’re not saying stop being a good employee, we’re saying park further away from the office door. Those few extra steps across the parking lot can make a big difference.
2. Take a stand. Stand up while you eat your lunch, or while you’re enjoying a quick coffee break. Take a phone call while standing up. Instead of sending a co-worker a message to ask a quick question, walk to their office, they’ll be pleasantly surprised to see you, probably.
3. Rearrange your office. Move the printer and trash can further away from you, not in arms reach, so you have to stand up to use them. No cheating here, wheeling your chair to the printer does not constitute as standing and/or exercise.
4. Take a stroll. During your workday, take a few breaks and walk around. Keep a pair of comfortable shoes at the office to avoid footwear as an excuse not to walk. If the weather isn’t favorable for an outdoor stroll, take a couple of laps around the office.
5. Keep exercising. By itself, exercise may not be sufficient for our health, but it is beneficial. Incorporating exercise and a healthy diet will help increase your life expectancy.
6. Convert it. Consider investing in a sit to stand convertible desk, this way you can do some of your computer work while standing.
Hopefully, at this point you’re standing up, but if you aren’t, we do hope you’ll consider integrating these simple steps into your daily routine to help cut down on the number of hours spent sitting.