Do you work in an office where you’re seated most of your work day? If so, you’ll want to pay close attention, because what I’m about to tell you could help you lead a longer, healthier life. A few health articles have pointed out that sitting for long periods of the day can have some serious effects on your health beyond simple weight gain. How do you combat the negative effects of sitting all day? There are some pretty simple steps you can put into place to do that, but you need to be sure you don’t let the pendulum swing too far the other way; standing all day can have some negative consequences, too.
What Does Sitting Do to Your Body?
People who are seated for long periods of time throughout the day have higher risk of disease than those who move often. Further, even if you exercise almost every day, the health benefits of that exercise can be rendered moot by a mostly sedentary lifestyle. Sitting also stops your body from producing and circulating an enzyme that helps reduce fat, which means sitting for long periods of time actively contributes to weight gain beyond not exercising. Also, sitting for long periods of time decreases blood circulation, especially in the legs and it causes your leg muscles to shorten and tighten, resulting in stiff hips and legs. Overall, prolonged sitting can have some pretty nasty effects on your health.
How Can You Minimize the Risks?
“So,” you say, “sitting is bad for you. I guess I’ll just stand up instead, right?” Let’s not get too hasty. Sitting all day is bad, but standing all day can be bad, too. Standing for too long increases the load on your cardiovascular system and can increase the chances of developing varicose veins. Plus, if your computer monitor, mouse and keyboard aren’t optimally placed, you could end up with carpal tunnel or hurt your neck. The best thing to do is to keep moving throughout the day. You don’t have to hop on a treadmill, but you should try getting up at least every hour and walking around a bit. Go get some coffee or take a restroom break. Walk upstairs then back down. You could also just stand up and do some simple stretches. If you do stretch, make sure you don’t overdo it. Stretching cold muscles can end in injury. Your goal is just to move around a little bit and loosen up your joints. Do a few squats with some spinal twists thrown in. You might get some funny looks from your coworkers, but your body will thank you for it.