Where do you stand? The impacts of sitting for long periods

Many of us are aware of the importance of exercise to help keep us healthy and minimise risk of conditions such as Type II diabetes, hypertension etc., but there’s increasing evidence about the negative impacts of sitting – an ‘activity’ many of us do at least 7 hours a day in Wales[1]!

Sitting, or being sedentary as it’s labeled, refers to times you are watching TV, driving, playing computer games, sitting in the office etc. Sedentary behaviours have been linked to heart disease, obesity and premature death. Extreme examples of this include a young lad who died of DVT following long bouts of up to 12 hours playing computer games[2].

video-games-1557358_1920What’s more, a recent study has shown people have a higher risk if they sit forprolonged periods of time, regardless of whether they do exercise or not, and even if you are not overweight[3],[4]. The risk was higher for those who did little or no exercise, but this study demonstrates that doing regular exercise isn’t necessarily enough to counteract the impacts of sitting on our health.

Sedentary behaviour can also lead to muscle imbalances and poor posture, which over time can lead to migraines, headaches, issues with the neck, upper and lower back and hips and reduced mobility. Considering other impacts associated with sitting activities such as effects on eye sight, repetitive strain injury and mental health issues, you can start to build a good picture of how sitting for prolonged periods can be bad for us.write-593333_1920

But, we can help counteract these impacts. As well as making sure we are getting regular moderate/intense exercise, having a good stretch and stand up at least every 30 minutes, getting a longer break every hour, standing while taking calls, have walking meetings, do ironing watching TV and taking walks at lunch time can all help. If you work at home, or your employer is on board, you could go as far as switching your office chair for a stability ball, getting a standing/sit-down desk or even a treadmill desk.

call-center-1026462_1920Not only could you minimise your risks, improve your posture and lift your mood – you’ll also be burning more calories – a study done by the BBC found that standing burned an average 50 calories extra per hour, meaning standing for 3 hours of your working day, 5 days a week would burn the equivalent of 10 marathons extra over the course of a year[5]!

So why not give it a go today, in fact, get up right now! More details including tips, desk stretches and exercises can be found at www.exerciseyourfreedom.com/fit-tips[6].

Leanne Bird, Founder of BirdSol me@exerciseyourfreedom.com

[1] Day, L. (2016) More than half of people in Wales do absolutely no exercise at all http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/health/more-half-people-wales-absolutely-11234352

[2] BBC (2011) Gamer Chris Staniforth’s death blamed on DVT http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-14350216

[3] Biswas, A, Oh, P. I., Faulkner, G. E., Bajaj, R. R. Silver, M. A., Mitchell, M. S. and Alter, D. A. (2015) Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. [Available online] http://annals.org/aim/article/2091327/sedentary-time-its-association-risk-disease-incidence-mortality-hospitalization-adults

[4] BHF (n.d.) Are you sitting too much? https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-matters-magazine/activity/sitting-down

[5] BBC (2013) Calorie burner: How much better is standing up than sitting? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24532996

[6] Always consult a health professional before deciding whether any treatment is suitable for you.

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