We don’t need another batch of research to tell us how being slumped at a desk all day is damaging our health. There are a multitude of studies out there already to show the negative effects: scientists claim sedentary lifestyles are more fatal than smoking and sitting down all the time causes more deaths than obesity.
But we also don’t need a study to tell us that being on our back side day after day will have negative repercussions on our health because we can feel it in our bones, our muscles, our mind. We know it when we get that feeling after a brisk walk, or the way we feel after plunging into the sea: we’re supposed to be interacting with our natural environments this way.
Yes, we need to stand up and move more. No, it’s not always easy. But here are just a few reasons you should switch up your sitting routine, and exactly how you should do it:
The risks of inactivity
Slows down your metabolism. From travelling to work on the train to watching TV on the sofa at night, when we’re seated, we slow down our body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and break down fats. Meaning it’s more likely you’ll put on weight and increase your blood pressure.
Linked to early death. Excessive sitting has been scientifically linked to type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and premature death. If you’re overweight or obese, sitting down too often probably has a lot to do with it.
Functional health suffers. The Start Active, Stay Active report details the importance of physical activity for maintaining our ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Those who sat down less in studies show a 30% reduced risk of falls and role limitations.
Lowers psychological well-being. Moving more can reduce the risk of depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s. By sitting less and upping your physical activity, you can boost your mood, self-esteem and sleep quality, while lowering your anxiety levels.
Reducing the risks from sitting down
- Do at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of exercise a week. This doesn’t all need to be at the gym, but here at EVO – we can help bring around your return to natural movement. This has a hugely positive impact on your physical, metabolic and psychological health. Try doing 30 minutes of big, compound movements – squatting, pulling, stretching, balancing – at least five days a week. Our personal trainers can design a custom program for those wanting to enhance their physical and mental wellbeing with functional fitness.
- Take an active break at least every 30 minutes. Break up your seated time (especially long periods) by taking a time out every half an hour or so. During your break, go for a quick walk or stretch it out for just one to two minutes. Set a timer on your phone to remind you.
- Make small changes to your weekday. Making physical activity a part of your everyday life is the easiest way to undo much of the damage caused from sitting down. Jump off the bus before your stop and walk the rest of the way, take the stairs instead of the lift, go and speak to a co-worker rather than email them.