It might seem a little over exaggerated but sitting really is as bad as smoking and on average we are slumped in a chair for 9 or more hours every day. We are sitting for longer than ever and the human body was not designed to work in this way.
In the morning behind the steering wheel or on the train, at the desk all day, the commute back home and then crashed out in front of the TV. This will sound all too familiar for some.
Unfortunately inactivity has become normal and this trend has seen physical activity levels reduce by 20% in the last 2 decades.
So what is happening when we sit and why is it the new smoking?
Over production of insulin – Cells that aren’t moving do not respond well to the effects of insulin so your body makes more which can lead to diabetes in the long run. A study in 2011 showed changes in insulin sensitivity after just one day of prolonged sitting.
Poor circulation – Sitting reduces your blood flow putting you at risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
Immediately after sitting down you stop burning energy, reducing your calorie use to 1 calorie per minute. This is 1/3 of what it would be if you were active and moving around.
After 2 weeks of sitting for 6 hours + a day your muscles stop utilising fat and your blood sugar levels increase. Your muscle mass starts to reduce and your oxygen consumption drops contributing to reduced energy levels.
After 1 year of sitting for 6 hours + a day it has been proven that a loss of 1% bone mass is evident. This is why training with weights or high impact activity is important. It improves bone density and prevents the onset of osteoporosis.
Long term, the symptoms above will subtly develop making it much harder for the issues to be reversed. Potentially there could be a serious medical condition on the horizon with the potential to affect someone for the rest of their life.
Unfortunately, stats don’t lie…
In the lead-up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, a special edition of ‘The Lancet’ published a series of papers based on national statistics from around the world.
Results showed that 40% of individuals with cardiovascular disease, diabetes or cancer failed to achieve the minimum recommendations for health of 150 min/week of moderate-intensity physical activity.
So how can you get yourself moving more in and around the office?
1. Use the Tomato Timer
Run the timer on your browser and when it buzzes take a micro break. Get up for a little walk, get some fresh water or even just stand up and work at your desk for a few minutes. It will keep you moving and it’s great for productivity too. Research suggests that 25 minutes is the magic number – where the maximum recommended time for sitting meets peak levels of productivity http://tomato-timer.com/
2. Try a Sit Stand desk
There is now a wide variety of options available in this area compared to a few years ago which means all budgets are catered for. This has seen a lot of businesses invest in Sit Stand desks for their employees. Aching or fed up of sitting down? Just raise your desk up.
3. Use a pedometer for a gentle reminder
Whether it’s a wearable or an ‘old school’ clip on the hip you could set yourself a moderate step challenge for each day. Using a pedometer will give you a great indication of how much or little you move each day.
1000 – 3000 steps a day would put someone in the sedentary bracket so an ideal starting point would be the upper end of this range (3000 steps a day).
It may not seem like a lot, but through experience a desk bound day and a couple of trips to the kettle could only see you rack up around 500 steps.
Here at Elite Corporate Performance we would highly recommend using something to track your movement throughout the day. If your business does not offer a fitness tracking scheme or benefit then we would advise taking it upon yourself to download an App or invest in a wearable to track your activity levels.
Matt Jaggard, Director.