We all sit – a lot! It’s the nature of today’s lifestyle, and our love of staying seated has been hailed as one of the biggest health issues of our time. Let’s take a look at the risks of sitting and whether or not standing while working will benefit your health.
Getting to the Bottom of this Health Problem
We sit for work for hours, then we go home and sit in front of the TV or at the dinner table. If you’re working from home, you may find yourself sitting or lying down even more than you were when you were at the office. On average, Australians spend an astonishing 10 hours a day on their posterior, and 1 in every 2 adults don’t meet basic physical activity guidelines! And many of you who are working hard, juggling multiple responsibilities and enjoying life may very well say, “So what?”.
The reality is that sitting (or having a sedentary lifestyle) is having a significant impact on mental and physical health.
- We use less energy when we sit, which means any extra calories simply get stored, leading to weight and obesity issues.
- Sitting, especially if we compromise our posture, leads to back, neck and hip pain, and increased absenteeism/sick days as a result.
- Our lack of movement undermines our emotional wellbeing, putting people at higher risk for depression and anxiety.
- Sitting for 11 hours a day increases your risk of death by a frightening 40%.
- Sedentary behaviour increases insulin resistance in your body, increasing your risk of developing diabetes by 112%.
- While it’s not fully understood, sitting increases your risk of certain cancers, including colon cancer, lung cancer and uterine cancers.
- Spending a lot of time sitting also significantly increases risks of heart disease, the number one cause of death in Australia. Just 10 hours of sitting a day increases your risk by 18% compared to sitting for 5 hours a day.
And the problem doesn’t go away that easily. You can’t do 30 minutes of exercise a day and then sit for a solid 10 hours and maintain your health – although it does help considerably.
How to Reduce Sitting Time
So, how do we get off our posteriors a bit more while still getting a thousand and one urgent tasks done every day?
- Break up your sitting hours – Every 30 minutes, when possible, get up and move around. This doesn’t mean running a 5k – just spending 5 minutes walking around the garden or simply getting up and standing while at your desk works just fine.
- Stand up when possible – Watching TV? Talking on the phone? Having a quick catchup with a colleague? These activities can be done standing as well as sitting, so take advantage of this time to get up and improve your blood flow.
- Move when you can – This is about choosing to move rather than staying seated or still, and although these moments are usually fairly short, they add up considerably – and your heart will thank you. Take the stairs wherever possible, walk to a nearby store or park rather than driving, take a stroll at lunchtime, and explore your neighbourhood on foot.
- Sit-stand desks – If you’re feeling especially motivated, think about investing in a sit-stand desk that allows you to stand up while you work and sit when standing gets tiresome. Remember to wear supportive shoes.
- Make time to exercise – We can all come up with 100 reasons on the spot not to exercise, but the fact is that exercise is too beneficial to our bodies and minds to ignore. It increases the flow of oxygen to our brains and organs, boosting our energy and alertness. It exercises the heart and cardiovascular system, keeping it fit and reducing risks of heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest. It boosts our mood by releasing endorphins, and it helps control our weight so you can enjoy the foods you love without compromising your health. Exercise takes commitment, but it becomes a real pleasure when you find something you enjoy doing. Take up dance classes, try physical theatre, run in nature rather than on the road, and you’ll find it’s easy to make time for physical activity.
Let’s Stand Up – and Take a Stand Against SCA and Heart Disease – Together
Every year in Australia, around 20,000 people die from sudden cardiac arrest while 41,800 people die each year from cardiovascular disease. At DefibsPlus, we are passionate about getting these numbers down and preventing unnecessary deaths. By supplying homeowners, businesses and groups with affordable automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and free defibrillator training, we’re working to help make communities across Australia into heart safe spaces.