You don’t want to be sitting down when you hear this. In fact, it would be better to be walking when you get the news that sitting too much is bad for your health.
The upside for those among us who like to sit is that you don’t have to be running at full speed for hours on end or swimming countless laps in the pool to realize some of the healthy benefits that simply moving has to offer.
We’ve all experienced the feeling of being engrossed in a project at work. You’re hunched over your computer for hours before you realize how much time has passed. You stand and your muscles feel tight. Your shoulders ache. You need to roll your head just to get the kink out of your neck.
The unhealthy impacts of sitting for long periods without some relief have been well documented. Your muscles tense and blood flow is inhibited. Even your digestive track is not working as efficiently as it should.
Here are some ways to better incorporate movement into your day and ward off the ill effects of sitting:
Acknowledge the need
Knowing that not moving for long periods isn’t good for your body is the first step to making a plan to add more movement to your day. If you know you need to tackle a difficult, time-consuming project then you can make a plan to remind yourself to take a break occasionally. If you tend to get lost in your work, set a timer to remind yourself to get up at least once an hour and take a short walk. Have a glass of water at hand and the need to use the facilities may be the prompt that gets you out of your chair for a short walk.
Take the long way
Even if you’re taking a short trip to the water cooler or copying machine, take a less direct route than you might otherwise. A little extra time spent walking probably won’t impact your productivity. It may get your muscles working and heart pumping. You may run into colleagues you don’t usually see and share an idea that would benefit your work or theirs.
Who says you have to be sitting down to have a meeting? Invite co-workers to join you on a walk to discuss an item of business. Not all meetings will lend themselves to a walk, but there may be many that do. The change of scenery and a burst of activity may spark creativity.
Post a sticky note on your computer or set your phone alarm to sound periodically at intervals throughout the day as a reminder that you need to stretch.
20 minutes, two times a week
Studies have shown that even taking a 20-minute walk a couple times a week can lessen back pain. If setting time aside during your lunchtime does not suit you then think about when you would be more likely to add a short walk into your day.
Maybe you’re an early riser and would rather set time for a walk early in the day. Or, maybe you’re a night owl, and would prefer a post-work stroll. The time doesn’t matter, the movement does.
For more information on the ill effects of sitting, watch this video.