Why you should stop sitting and move more
by Simone do Carmo
in Blogs

Sitting. Whether in our office chair, car seat or sofa, we’re mostly unaware of the detrimental effect of sitting on our health. But sitting has actually been called the ‘new smoking’ and can increase the risk of many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and depression.

Studies have also shown that people with sedentary jobs are almost twice as likely to die younger. The risk also increases with more sitting: people who sit for over 13 hours per day have a two-fold greater risk of death than those who sit for less than 11 hours per day. This even applies to regular exercisers regardless of their age, sex, race or body mass index. It’s the sedentary patterns that count, not just how much we sit each day. This means that if a person exercises regularly, if they sit for long periods of time without taking regular breaks, their health will still deteriorate. We can’t simply cancel out the effect of prolonged sitting by doing half an hour’s exercise.

Sitting has also been shown to take a toll on mental health by increasing the risk of depression. A study in 9,000 women found those who sat for seven hours per day and were physically inactive were three times as likely to have symptoms of depression than those who sat for fewer hours and were physically active.

Sitting is further linked to unhealthy changes in our metabolism, such as higher triglycerides, lower HDL (good cholesterol) levels, and decreased insulin sensitivity – all of which are thought to encourage low-grade inflammation, an underlying cause of the major diseases mentioned above.

The good news is that you can make simple changes to help stave off detrimental health effects by moving around at least every half hour. Research has shown that sitting in stretches of less than 30 minutes reduces the risk of death by 55 per cent compared to sitting over 30 minutes at a stretch.

Here are some practical tips to help you move more during a working day:

  • - Set your phone to remind you to move for a few minutes every half hour. You can walk around your workplace, climb a flight of stairs or even do some body weight squats and stretches.
  • - Take a walk break every time you get a glass of water, cup of tea or coffee. Even better: go refill your water glass every hour. This will also make sure you’re well-hydrated throughout the day.
  • - Put your files, printer and rubbish bin on the other side of the room so you have to get up to reach them.
  • - Don’t send emails to your colleague if they’re in the office. Get up and go talk to them.
  • - Stand up during meetings or take a walking one-on-one meeting.
  • - Stand up and/or walk around while you’re on the phone.
  • - Consider investing in a stand-up desk. You can alternate every half hour between sitting and standing up.
  • - Always use the stairs and not the lift.
  • - Park your car far away from your workplace entrance.
  • - Commute to work if you can by walking, cycling or running, even if it’s only a couple of days per week.
  • - Go for a walk during your lunch break even if it’s a short stroll. Bonus tip: do it after lunch so you benefit from the increased insulin sensitivity and subsequent lowering of your blood sugar levels.
  • - Track your health by using a pedometer to count your daily steps. You should be aiming for 10,000 per day.

Now that you have some easy tips to help reduce your sitting time and encourage you to move more, there’s no excuse. And that’s my cue to stand up from my chair and start moving!