Sitting Disease: Simple Ways to Stay Active

You exercise regularly, you don’t smoke, and you do your best to eat a healthy diet. You’re the picture of perfect health, right? Not necessarily, if you’re like the majority of Americans. According to a 2008 Vanderbilt study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the average American spends up to 7.7 hours per day sitting. This habit of physical inactivity can have several negative consequences that are detrimental to your health.

Sometimes referred to as sitting disease, habitual sedentary behavior has become a significant health concern in recent years. A 2010 study by the American Cancer Society found that women who sit more than six hours per day are 94 percent more likely to die than women who are more physically active. Men who are sedentary are 48 percent more likely to die than their standing counterparts. People who spend most of their day sitting are at greater risk of obesity, cancer and type 2 diabetes, and they have roughly the same risk of heart attack as someone who smokes (Source: Juststand.org).

In a day and age where we increasingly rely on technology for work, communication and entertainment, it can be challenging to find ways to work physical activity into your daily routine. However, studies show that even a small increase can have a dramatic impact. According to Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, adding just two minutes of light physical activity to every hour of sedentary behavior can lower your risk of dying by one-third!

Try adding some of these simple techniques to your daily routine to help you stay active, healthy and strong:

  • Use a standing desk – If you spend the majority of your day in front of a computer, consider moving your work station to a standing desk. You’ll burn 30 percent more calories throughout the work day, and you’ll power right through that midday slump.
  • Wear an activity tracker – It’s time to dust off that FitBit, sports watch or pedometer you got for Christmas and start putting it to good use! Tracking your daily physical activity is a great way to set realistic goals and identify areas that need improvement.
  • Set an alarm – Set a reminder on your watch, phone or computer to get up and move around for a few minutes every hour. You can walk around the office floor, climb the steps in the stairwell, or even do some light stretching at your desk.
  • Hit the gym – Experts agree that exercise alone is not enough to counteract the effects of prolonged sitting, but it is still crucial to your overall health. Try to set aside at least 30 minutes a day for light to moderate physical activity.

Physical activity doesn’t have to be complicated or rigorous to be effective. Find simple ways to stay moving throughout your work day to improve your health, boost your mental state, and decrease your risk of disease.