By now, you’ve likely heard that sitting for hours—whether at a desk working or relaxing on the couch watching TV—isn’t ideal for your health. It turns out that rumor is true: sitting is the new smoking.
That doesn’t mean you have to give up on leisure forever, though. Find out why you should avoid a sedentary lifestyle and how to find time in your day to get active.
The Realities of Sitting Too Much
Obesity, increased blood sugars, elevated blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, and a buildup of body fat at your midsection are linked to sitting for long periods of time, according to the Mayo Clinic. The organization notes that a study of people who spent more than four hours per day sitting and viewing a screen were at a 50 percent higher risk of death and 125 percent higher risk of “events associated with cardiovascular disease” than people who log less than two hours per day sitting and watching screen-based entertainment. That includes playing video games, scrolling through social media, or watching television.
And, time at the gym didn’t offset the sedentary behavior. To stay healthier, you need to get up and move—just for a few minutes—every hour.
Easy Ways to Get Moving
I typically work from a home office and am often guilty of sitting for long stretches of time behind my keyboard. However, I understand the benefits of physical activity, and consciously break up my day by getting away from my desk for a few minutes at a time.
I use cellphone alerts, Google Calendar reminders, and the hourly chime of my hall clock to remind me that another hour has gone by and I need to get up and move. You can start by syncing up your calendar, and adding a few of the following reminders to your day to improve your overall health:
- Let your dog out for a potty break, cuddle your cat, or check on other pets for just a few minutes each hour.
- Stand each time you take or make a phone call.
- Suggest walking meetings (when the gathering is only a handful of people).
- Install a standing or treadmill desk.
- Move file cabinets and printers farther away from your desk, so you have to get up to retrieve items.
- Watch your favorite TV show or a movie while slowly walking on a home treadmill.
- Place your cellphone out of arms reach when watching TV (then you have to get up to check incoming text messages).
- Drink more water so you need to walk to the restroom more often.
- Walk to a coworker’s desk to relay a short message rather than sending an email.
- Use a smaller coffee mug or water bottle, and get up for refills more frequently.
- Walk around the block while your dinner cooks in the oven.
- Stand while folding laundry, writing grocery lists, or helping your kids with homework.
You don’t need to break a sweat to improve your health. Just get up, change your posture, move your legs, and take in a few deep breaths. It’s that simple!
If sitting is the new smoking, what are you doing to add more movement to your day? Tweet a selfie of your next health break to @TomsofMaine!
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.
Why It’s Good
People simply sit too much. By making a point to get away from the TV or desk for just a few moments every hour, you're improving your overall health dramatically. Why not use these minutes to connect with your pet, child, or spouse to give your mental health a boost, too?