Think about how much time you spend sitting down. If you are like many Americans you spend hours every day in front of the television or the computer, in the car, on airplanes, in classrooms, and at your desk or in meetings at work.
Sitting or being inactive for long periods of time is referred to as being “sedentary” and it can have serious health implications. It increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. There are several studies that show that more time spent sitting means a shorter life overall.
If you are sitting down you are not exercising your heart, lungs, and muscles but you may also be damaging your blood vessels. Excessive sitting constricts the arteries in your legs. This means blood flow is blocked and that can raise blood pressure and contribute to heart disease.
I used to believe that this would never be a problem for me because I am good about exercising but studies show an increased mortality risk related to sitting for long periods of time even in people who also engaged in regular physical activity.
I’ve been working at “not sitting” for a while and here are some of the things that have helped me reduce time spent on my butt:
Set an alarm – I have a fitness tracker with an inactivity alert that reminds me to get up and move. You could do the same thing with your phone, an alarm clock, or a kitchen timer. Set the alarm for 60 minutes at the most (30 would be better). Every time it goes off stand up. You could even take a little walk.
Walk and watch – Instead of just sitting in front of the TV, stand up and watch or walk around. I sometimes do laps around the basement while listening to the news. You’d be surprised at how little you miss even if you aren’t watching the screen constantly.
Stand up for other things – I am lucky enough to have a standing desk at work. In fact I am standing as I write this. I’ve also found that, with a little creativity, I can read while standing by placing my phone or tablet on a shelf in the kitchen.
It doesn’t take much effort to improve sedentary behavior and reduce your health risk. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym or even move much. You just have to stand up!