Take A Stand Against Sitting!
The news that sitting is the public health epidemic of the 21st century is great for headlines. But is sitting really as dangerous to your health as smokin
Move of the Month
1. Stand in front of chair with legs hip width apart
2. Squat as if you are going to sit in the chair, then rise
3. Keep back straight and tilt slightly forward when squatting
4. Keeping your weight in your heels when you squat so that knees don’t extend beyond toes
5. Repeat for 30 seconds or do 10 repetitions
The news that sitting is the public health epidemic of the 21st century is great for headlines. But is sitting really as dangerous to your health as smoking? As a former postdoctoral fellow with the National Cancer Institute of Canada who worked in tobacco control research for ten years, I originally met that claim with skepticism.
Then I started to look at the science behind the hype. The evidence links sedentary lifestyles to back pain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and increased risk of certain types of cancer (colon, endometrial and breast). Research shows that people who sit more than six hours a day are more likely to die prematurely than those who sit for less than three hours — regardless of how fit they are. Not only is sitting hazardous to health — it can kill.
I only have to look at my own life to see the downsides of sitting. At the age of 50, I moved south from Toronto to the Washington, D.C. area and noticed that my healthy lifestyle started going south as well. Committed to taking my business to the next level, I found myself sitting more and exercising less during the workday (aside from daily walks with my pooch, Benji). I went up a pant size, my strength decreased and I experienced knee pain I’d never had before. Plus, I felt sluggish and even my personality was less upbeat. Ironically, my health business was getting healthier as I was getting unhealthier.
X bytes was born out of the idea that conference attendees need fitness micro breaks throughout the day to stay engaged and alert. It’s clear that applying the same philosophy to our workday can help us escape the negative aspects of prolonged sitting. And it starts with a change of mindset. Hours at the gym are not going to reverse the effects of hours spent glued to a chair. The answer lies in breaking up periods of sitting with standing, stretching and activity. Bottom line: reduce your inactivity during the workday by standing up, moving more and moving often.
I’m taking my own advice: I’ve started building in breaks for short bouts of exercise — what I call “deskercises” — and I take my phone calls standing up. I’ve committed to helping others fight “sitting disease” too. That’s why I’m launching this blog: To demystify the latest research and offer easy and effective ways to take a stand against sitting.
In fact, this month I’m attending the first-ever sedentary behavior research conference at the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana. The agenda is full of information on the science and health effects of too much sitting. I’ll report back with what I learned in next month’s blog.
In the meantime, get started on your journey with our “Sitting is the New Smoking” tip sheet that I wrote it from my cool new standing desk — a birthday gift from my husband and kids!
Standing up for good health,
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