Sitting. Who knew something so innocent could be so detrimental to your health?
I’m not going to lie. I sit too much. When I get into a project such as writing a blog post or an email, I get lost in the process. I usually snap out of it when my husband says, “Have you moved from that seat?”
By now you’ve probably heard that sitting can cause health complications and even shorten your lifespan. In fact, a recent study found that walking for just 2 minutes each hour can make a huge difference. That’s good news for the 80% of Canadians and Americans who find it difficult to keep up with the minimum amount of exercise experts recommend.
The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines ©2011 suggest that,
“To achieve health benefits, adults aged 18-64 years should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. It is also beneficial to add muscle and bone-strengthening activities using major muscle groups, at least 2 days per week.”Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines ©2011
Here are some benefits of sitting less!
- Strengthens your heart. Sitting down slows your circulation and speeds up muscle loss, both of which take a toll on your heart. On the other hand, physical activity helps to prevent heart disease and even reverses some risk factors.
- May help you avoid illness. Prolonged sitting has also been associated with diabetes, cancer, and other conditions. A daily walk could mean fewer doctor visits and a longer life.
- Will help you lose weight. Naturally, you burn more calories jogging than lounging on the couch. Plus, exercise is safer than crash diets that may not provide essential nutrients.
- Enhances your mood. Sitting affects your mind as well as your body. Boost your spirits with a gentle workout. You’ll probably find yourself thinking more clearly too.
If you work an office job and are back in the office, you definitely need to find a way to ensure you aren’t sitting too long at your desk (especially if your boss won’t spring for an office full of treadmill desks).
Suggestions for Two-Minute Breaks
- Break up tasks. Divide your assignments into 45 – 60-minute segments. That’s about as long as most adults can concentrate, so you may even increase the quality of your work.
- Create triggers for yourself. If you still tend to lose yourself in the flow (hello!), develop signals for when to stand up. We live in an age of cell phones, so let’s use them for more than just texting. Set an alarm on your phone to get a certain task done (no more than 60 minutes). Or program an alarm on your computer, or time yourself according to your favorite radio news program or background music. Then stand up and go for a walk or do jumping jacks (if you are at home or in the office – whatever floats your boat), stretch … anything to get moving and get the blood flowing.
- Engage in other light activities. Any gentle task can be substituted for walking. If you are at home, tidy up, unload the dishwasher, do something in your garden or dance a few steps. If you are at work, do some of your activities standing up or deliver the inter-office envelope yourself, rather than waiting for the mailroom to pick it up. Again, anything to get moving. Use your imagination!
Other Lifestyle Suggestions to Reduce the Risks of Prolonged Sitting
- Exercise regularly. While a two minute walk is a good start, there are advantages to additional exercise. More intense workouts will condition your cardiovascular system, thicken your bones, and keep your mind sharp.
- Eat a balanced diet. Studies show that adults who sit more, snack more. Try drinking a glass of water or tea to curb your appetite. Prepare healthy food you can nibble on anywhere, like non-dairy yogurt or almond butter on apple slices.
- Stretch your hips and back. Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spine and hips. Stand up and stretch every hour. Bend forward keeping your torso close to your legs. Raise one leg, bend your knee, and gently press your leg across the front of your body.
- Turn off the TV. Do you sit in front of the TV after sitting at your desk for eight hours? I am definitely guilty of this! Try going for a walk after dinner. Autumn is just around the corner and an evening walk on a cool night may be just the ticket!
Strategic breaks while working and other healthy habits will help you live a longer and more active life!
Until next time!
Yours in health and wellness,
Francine Alleyne (RHNP™)
Holistic Nutritionist, Registered Holistic Nutrition Practitioner™
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DISCLAIMER: Please consult your healthcare practitioner if you are experiencing any symptoms. I am not a doctor. This post and anything else you find on my website is intended for informational, educational and self-empowerment purposes ONLY and is not intended to treat or diagnose any condition or disease.