How are you reading this article right now? What’s the position of your body? Chances are you’re sitting at a desk, sitting on the tube, sitting on the sofa, sitting in a pub, sitting in a restaurant… you get the idea. We’re a nation of sitters, and it’s killing us.
Sitting has been linked to over 5.3 million deaths annually. That’s 200,000 more than smoking. Being sedentary for a prolonged period of time has been linked to the following health issues and ailments, according to Mayo Clinic and the NHS: obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat, high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, digestive problems, poor circulation, lung, and respiratory issues.
Understanding that sitting down was a cause for an early death came about in the 1950s when an investigation into London bus drivers was launched. It was found that bus drivers were twice as likely to have a heart attack than a bus conductor.
More recent research has also found that those who sit for more than eight hours a day are likely to die earlier than those who don’t. Pretty grim reading, huh?
What can I do to not sit down all day?
A recent study shockingly found that we spend around 15 hours a day sitting down, whether that’s at work or at home or a combination of the two.
Whilst that figure is geared toward an American audience, it gives us Brits an overall average to think about – do you sit for more or less than 15 hours a day? If your health is a concern to you, consider these ways of introducing more movement into your day.
Yup. A desk where you stand up and work. Standing desks are fast becoming a popular choice in modern day offices (and home offices, too). They give you that much-needed standing time, and allow for more flexibility and movement throughout the day. Ergonomic height adjustable desks start at around £500 and are available through various sources including Posturite.
Unable to bare the thought of paying half a grand to stand up? Consider getting a cheaper model from the US. The Oristand starts at $25 with Tech Crunch describing the standing desk as “doing your back a favour, without breaking your wallet”.
Change your behaviours
Laziness is something we’re all guilty of once in a while and people who work from home are stereotyped as being even worse – working in their pyjamas, walking five paces to their office etc.
Next time you’re working from home, think about walking to the shops instead of taking the car or public transport, or if you’re out meeting a client, take the stairs instead of the lift. By actively changing our behaviour to include less sitting down time, we can improve our health and add length to our lives.
Implement team goals
Small businesses across Britain have been on a wellness crusade and are waking up the positive impact that creating a healthy environment can do for employees. One of the ways that business owners are having an impact is by supplying employees with fitness trackers such as Fitbit or Jawbone. Analysts have predicted that by 2018, over 13 million fitness trackers will be bought via corporate programmes in the US alone.
Offices have placed employees in teams and given them a target, for example, walk 50,000 steps between the team members in one day. Activities like this can get employees moving – as long as it doesn’t distract them from the task in hand.
Introducing fitness trackers into a business – no matter if you’re a small business with ten or one hundred employees – can not only help employee health, but also build teamwork.
Just because you’re sitting down doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. Desk yoga is becoming a ‘thing’, along with overall office yoga, and knowing what stretches you can do at your desk is one step closer to performing active movement.
Furthermore, a study by Lancet found that to combat the effects of sitting down all day, you’ll need to perform one hour of physical activity a day, for example running, riding a bike, or taking a brisk walk. This physical activity doesn’t have to be undertaken in one go. You could walk for 15 minutes briskly to work, jog on a treadmill for 30 mins in your lunch hour, and then repeat the brisk walk back home. What matters is doing the full hour, each and every day.
If you work from home take the time to get up and walk around your house – even going from room to room can make a difference to your back, health and posture. Set yourself personal health goals such as “today I will walk 5,000” steps or “today I will perform 15 minutes of yoga” – use your flexibility to your advantage and introduce movement to your daily routine.
Looking for more advice on getting things done? Check out our Ultimate Productivity Guide.