Only in our modern society can someone who runs regularly and hits the gym 5 times a week still be at risk for a myriad of diseases. Why? Because even an hour workout every day doesn’t make up for all the other hours of our day spent sitting at a desk or unwinding on the couch at night.
So what happens to our bodies when most of our awake hours are spent sitting? Research shows that people who spend more time sitting have higher levels of blood sugar and triglycerides, and more fatty buildup inside the heart’s arteries. They then become more at risk for diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The most disturbing findings show that regardless of exercise, people who are inactive most of the day are at higher risk for cancer and more likely to die prematurely.
This seems like all bad news, but there are definitely things you can do to combat sitting disease. Even adding 2 minutes of light activity to each hour you spend sitting can lower your risk of dying by one-third! So give these ideas a try:
- Count your steps with a simple pedometer. Aim for 5,000 - 10,000 steps per day.
- Incorporate the 20-8-2 rule. For every 20 minutes you spend sitting, stand for 8 minutes and move for 2 minutes.
- Set your watch or download an app. Yes, there are apps that will remind you to stand up, stretch or walk for a few minutes each hour. Use them to help you break the sitting habit.
- Go on walks - Use any excuse to add a short walk into your day. Hold a “walking meeting,” walk before breakfast, walk at lunch, and go on evening walks with your pets or family. Everyone needs to move!