Think for a second about your typical daily routine…Do you spend eight or so hours a day sitting at your desk? Have some dinner? Then maybe spend a couple hours sitting in front of the TV before it’s time to head to bed? If this sounds like you, you may be one of the many who’ve grown hopelessly accustomed to the all-too-common sedentary lifestyle.
While many jobs and activities in today’s society seem to confine us to a sitting position, the bad news is that more and more research is finding that too much sitting seems to have a pretty severe impact on our health and overall life expectancy. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared physical inactivity as the fourth leading cause of death worldwide.
Sedentary Lifestyle Health Risks
Over the past few years, researchers have spent a lot of time studying the health effects of prolonged sitting, and they arrived at some pretty startling conclusions. Those of us who sit more than eight hours per day are at increased risk for:
- Heart attacks
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Obesity/weight gain
- Mental health problems
- Physical disability
- Death from cancer
What’s even more startling is the fact that doctors can’t be sure if even an hour of vigorous exercise daily can’t completely undo the harm of more that eight hours of sitting every day. Although, they have uncovered a particularly simple and effective way to help reduce the alarming health risks of a sedentary lifestyle, check out Study Finds Exercise Can’t Reverse Damage Caused by Sitting All Day — But This Can to learn more.
How to Offset Health Risks of Prolonged Sitting
Even if you work long hours at a desk job, you’re not doomed! There are simple ways to get up and get moving throughout the day that can help mitigate the various health complications that result from a sedentary lifestyle.
Experts recommend that you seek out opportunities for easy lifestyle modifications that will enable you to get up more frequently and move around or, better yet, drastically reduce the amount of time you sit every day.
One idea that has gained a lot of traction from office workers and their employers is the use of standing desks. You can even invest in a standing desk for your home office. These ingenious structures allow you to do the same activities that you would at a traditional desk, all while standing. Check out a wide selection of these health-friendly desks here. And for smaller budgets or limited space, there are desk mount options that provide elevated platforms for your keyboard and monitor. The beauty of an attachable desk platform is that your desk is usable in both a sitting and standing position.
Another benefit of a standing desk is increased calorie burning throughout the day. Compared to sitting, standing burns roughly 40 percent more calories, which is quite a sizable number that can even translate to several pounds lost over the span of a year.
Even if standing at your desk really isn’t an option, there are a few best practices to take note of regarding the healthiest way to sit at your desk, which we outline in our article The Healthiest Way to Sit at a Desk All Day. Plus, you can still take more standing breaks during the day. Every 30 minutes or so, it’s encouraged that you stand up and stretch for a minute. You can also take a few walks to the water cooler every day for a refill to get in some extra steps, and try reserving five minutes of your lunch break for a quick walk around the building.
You can do the same thing at home, too! Let every commercial break on TV be your signal to stand up and walk around a bit. You can even spend the commercial breaks doing a few stretches that can help improve flexibility and mobility. Your goal is just to break up the long periods of sitting with a few minutes here and there of activity.
While it may not seem like much, doctors agree that even these small changes in your daily lifestyle can go a long way in helping to prevent many of the health problems associated with too much sitting and a sedentary lifestyle.