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|Volume 12 |Issue 06| February 08, 2013 ||
Do You Have Sitting Disease?
Too much time sitting down may spell bad news for your health. Here are 10 solutions
Chances are you're reading this article sitting down. And if you're like most computer users, you've been in your chair for a while.
You're probably inactive for more of your day than you realise. Do you sit in your car while commuting to an eight-hour-a-day desk job and then unwind in front of the television all evening? Do you depend on email, direct-deposit paychecks, and online shopping to accomplish tasks that 10 or 20 years ago would have required you to run errands?
If so, then you may have "sitting disease." That's the new buzzword for a sedentary lifestyle that may put your health at risk."Human beings evolved as a walking entity, exploring the world on our feet," says James Levine, MD, author of Move a Little, Lose a Lot.
Think beyond your workout. Even if you exercise at lunch, you may still be sitting too much. "Getting one hour of exercise in the middle of the day is obviously going to be better than not doing anything, but that still leaves approximately seven hours of predominantly sitting during the workday," David Dunstan, PhD, says.
Mix standing and sitting. Sitting constantly is unhealthy, but standing still for long stretches of time can cause problems, too, such as a bad back or sore feet. It's better to frequently shift between sitting and standing, Dunstan notes.
Take regular breaks. Get yourself moving more often with small goals. Stretch out your entire body, all the muscles that are cramped. If you do it five or six times a day, you'll start to notice a difference.
Pretend it's 1985. Have a question for your co-worker down the hall? Don't shoot him an e-mail; walk to his cubicle and ask him face to face. Some companies have instituted email-free Fridays to get employees out of their chairs more often, Levine says.
Adopt new habits. Standing uses more muscles and burns more calories than sitting, so train yourself to stand whenever you talk on the telephone. Ask friends to go for a walk during lunch instead of chatting in the break room. Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
Rearrange the office. Help your company encourage its employees to be more physically active without suggesting that they install treadmills at every workstation, Levine says. Start having walk-and-talk meetings with your co-workers rather than conference room meetings. Move trash cans out of cubicles to make people walk to throw out garbage. Relocate water coolers by windows, where people will want to congregate.
Embrace new technology. Telecommute from a park on a sunny day, or walk around outside while participating in a conference call. "Instead of tying people to their desks, technology is starting to release people from their desks," Levine says, noting the widespread use of text messaging, laptops, and cell phones with wireless Internet access. "The evolution of technology allows people to be far more mobile."
End your workday with a bang, not a whimper. Prolonged sitting at work can tire you out, making you zone out as 5 pm approaches. But if you take a brisk, 15-minute walk in the afternoon, you'll be far more productive in your last two hours. If you're worried that you don't have time for a walk, you may be surprised that you get your work done more quickly afterwards.
Rethink your commute. It's dangerous to try to exercise while you're driving, but if you take a bus or train to work, you can stand, clench, and relax your muscles or get off a stop early and walk several blocks.
Watch more television. It is not our objective at all to discourage people from watching TV. Pull your dust-covered treadmill out of retirement, place it in front of the television, and only allow yourself to watch when you're walking. No exercise equipment? March in place or tidy the room while watching. Just don't be a couch potato. Research shows that the longer you sit watching television, the greater your waist circumference, and the higher your risk is of dying from cardiovascular disease.
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