Have you heard? New research is shining a light on the health risks of prolonged sitting and the results aren’t pretty. A 2017 report in the Annals of Internal Medicine shared outcomes from research which followed the sedentary behavior of over 7,900 adults age 45 or older. What did it find? Lengthy durations of sitting contribute to an increased risk of early death, no matter how healthy or unhealthy you are. This is bad news for much of the world which spends hours a day working at a desk, sitting down to eat, watching TV, surfing social media, and so on.
When it comes to limiting your sitting time, don’t miss these 10 top ideas:
Use a standing desk – revolutions in technology are making desks which mechanically rise and fall more accessible and cost-friendly for companies and individuals. If you work sitting down at a desk all day, consider investing in a standing desk to start limiting your sedentary time for good.
Take meetings on the go – moving from sitting in a stuffy cubicle to sitting in a stuffy conference room seems redundant, especially when you’re trying to sit less not more. Take your next work meeting on the go by doing laps around your building (or house, if you telecommute) with your colleagues in person or on the phone.
Bounce instead – replace that old uncomfortable office chair for a bouncy stability (exercise) ball. Stability balls require you to practice balance and better posture habits, plus they are fun and might even help you burn extra calories on the job.
Set reminders on your phone – you want to get serious about avoiding sitting for long periods of time? Go the extra mile and set alerts on your smartphone or work computer so you literally get pinged when it’s time to get up, stretch, and take a quick break.
Track your steps – holding yourself accountable to sitting down less and walking more might be as simple as tracking your steps with a wearable fitness gadget like a Fitbit or Bellabeat. Setting goals to hit 10,000 or 15,000 steps a day will have you up on your feet and replacing more and more sitting time with walking time.
Drink more water – not only is healthy hydration key to alertness, intestinal motility, and even your sense of wellbeing, but it can be just the reason you need to intermittently get up during the day. Drinking a glass or bottle of water each time you use the restroom will fuel a healthy cycle of regularly getting up out of your chair.
Walk short distances – driving a few blocks to grab lunch or run a quick errand seems so natural, but if you’re looking to mitigate the negative side effects of prolonged sitting, you might want to think about walking instead. Not only does walking help you burn more calories, but it keeps you moving and can also provide stress-relief, especially when you walk in a natural setting like a park.
Exercise while you watch TV – if binge watching Netflix is your favored weekend hobby, incorporate more standing exercise into the mix to avoid sitting for too long on the couch. Stretch during the interludes to your show, take quick 5-minute yoga breaks between episodes, or simply walk on a treadmill while you watch.
Stand up to communicate – need to get a message to a co-worker down the hall? Don’t send an email. Get up and go tell them in person. Handling a work call that requires your full attention? Stand up while you talk and pace a common pathway.
Replace sitting with exercise – if you want to get serious about not sitting so much, get serious about exercise. Replacing sitting time (i.e. time spent on Facebook or watching TV) with 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day will not only get your up and off your rear, but has been shown to lower risk for myriad conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Easy, moderate-intensity activities include swimming, tennis, hiking, brisk walking, dancing, rowing, and yoga!
For all those times where sitting is inevitable, like driving long commutes to work or for travel, make sure you’re doing right by your body. Click here for a list of the best seat cushions for cars. Seat cushions, regular stretching, and frequent hydration can keep you from developing back strain, neck pain, and headaches which in turn will keep you feeling motivated to stay active!