This September, our entire Firm is going to Las Vegas for our National Meeting. One of the aspects of the trip that many of us are getting excited about is our new MY Journey® focus area, Live Well Be Well. After all, we’re trying to be better leaders of ourselves, and we have to “be well” emotionally, spiritually, and of course, physically to do that.
So how much is our physical well-being impacted by something the majority of us do all day?
Off the top of your head, how much time do you spend sitting down? Research shows that we spend 9.3 hours a day on average sitting down — which might not be a surprise to those of us that work at a computer. It’s what everyone does. But how can we counteract all the negative side effects of sitting for too long?
Is sitting really that bad?
I never thought sitting was so awful until I read an article that pulled me in with the shocking line that you’ve probably heard before: sitting is the new smoking. It laid out a long list of ways how prolonged sitting is killing us, even if we exercise regularly. You can read about all the negative effects: from the Mayo Clinic, the American Heart Association, the Annals of Internal Medicine, and just about anywhere else.
The bottom line is that we need to sit less and move more.
Excessive sitting increases the risk of many chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, kidney stones, diabetes, stroke, and certain types of cancer. It triggers mood disorders, slows our metabolism, and hurts our heart.
Sound scary? It is! So, what can we do?
Get up and move around!
It’s easier said than done to make more time for moving around, but even gentle movement can make a huge difference. Fortunately, there are actually a lot of ways to combat excessive sitting. Here we go:
- Get up every 20-30 minutes and move around. Simply stand up to get water, go to the bathroom, take a call, talk to your coworker at the next cube, or go for a walk. One of my old colleagues downloaded an app on her phone that reminded her to get up and stretch every hour; a one-minute video would pop up from the app and everyone on our team would join her for the quick stretching exercise. It’s an amazing way to stay active!
- Use an adjustable standing desk. The first piece of furniture that I bought when I moved into my new apartment was an adjustable standing desk. Although I didn’t anticipate working from home a lot, I knew I’d love to be able to stand up every so often while I’m writing an email, doing my personal finances, or shopping online without interruptions. I’m absolutely loving this new addition! Don’t worry if you don’t have a standing desk at work. Typical work desks can be turned into a standing desk by adding a standing desk converter that rests on top of the table. Using a standing desk also doesn’t mean that you have to stand all day at work; in fact, excessive standing is discouraged. Taking advantage of a height adjustable desk to stand up for a little bit every hour is all you’ll need!
- Be mindful that sedentary behaviors go beyond the office! Jump off of the couch during commercials. Skip the elevator and take the stairs. Get off the bus one stop early to walk to your destination. Take more breaks and get out of the car for some fresh air during a road trip. Little moves lead to big results!
- Believe it or not, you can exercise and keep your body active without getting out of your seat. Stretch your arms and your neck. Sit at the edge of your chair, lift your feet up slightly and hold for a minute. Lift your thighs off the chair with your arms and hold for 10 seconds. I’ve also met a client who uses a big yoga ball as her “chair” and sits on it at work to work out her abs. Get creative!
Are you ready to start moving?