“Sitting Disease” is becoming more and more of an issue in our society. This new health issue has arisen as people spend more and more time sitting and developing a sedentary lifestyle. According to Mayo Clinic, 50-70% of people sit at least 6 hours per day, and 20-35% of people spend over 4 hours every day watching TV. This shows us that the sitting disease is spreading between home and work and can quickly and easily infect your workforce.
The Bad News
This new health risk is a huge problem for quite a few reasons. First and foremost, the effects of sitting all day can’t be reversed by even the most intense workout later that night. The problem needs to be cut off at the source so we can avoid those health consequences all together.
A few of the detrimental health effects that a sedentary lifestyle can have are:
- Increased risk of obesity, heart disease and even some types of cancer
- Decreased function when it comes to circulation, respiration and posture
- Mental issues including increased fatigue, loss of focus, higher stress levels and lower productivity
- Fewer calories burned throughout the day
The negative side effects of living a sedentary lifestyle are said to decrease your life expectancy by an average of 21.8 minutes for every hour you spend sitting. The risks get a bit more serious as you get older, so it’s important to focus on how you spend your days.
The Good News
While a sedentary lifestyle can seem like a scary, life-threatening condition, the truth is there are a lot of things you can do to avoid these negative effects. It’s been shown that simply breaking up the time you spend sitting and focusing more on moving throughout the day can reverse the effects and help you become healthier overall. Here are a few great tips to intentionally rid your workplace of sitting disease.
Number 1: Take Breaks
You can take breaks throughout the day to get moving. These breaks can easily integrate into your typical work day. You could take all of your calls on your feet either standing or walking around. You could also be sure to get up and move every hour. There are simple timers you can download on your computer or phone. When the timer goes off, walk to the water cooler, a coworkers desk or just take a lap around the office. Finally, you could take exercise breaks. Every so often do some of these awesome office workouts like wall-sits, tricep dips and more!
Number 2: Compensate
While there is no way to truly compensate for a sedentary lifestyle, there are things you can do throughout the day to keep your body healthy. First, you could change the way you sit. Be sure to sit with correct posture: back straight, feet on the floor and no slouching! Second, you could move in other ways throughout the day. This could include taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther from the door or filling your water bottle at the farthest fountain. Finally, you could count your steps throughout the day. With the emerging wearable technology, this process is incredibly easy, and will encourage you to walk more during the day (which will get you up out of your chair!).
Number 3: Don’t Sit
This is actually as simple as it seems. Just don’t sit. There are plenty of options to turn your workstation into a sit-free, or sit/stand zone. If you have the budget, consider investing in sit/stand desks for an easy transition, standing desks to eliminate sitting all together or even treadmill desks to burn a few more calories. These are simple ways to negate sitting at work.
If the budget doesn’t allow for specified standing technology, it’s simple to make your own standing desk. Just find a shelf, box or stool to set on the desk's surface. This will act as your computer stand. You can get multiple if you also need a space for writing or reading. Then, push your chair back and stand up. Easy as that! This cheaper option is also great because you can simply move the shelf and put your things back on the desk’s surface if your legs begin to get tired or sore.
If you buy or make a sit/stand desk, you might want to consider starting slow. When you first begin standing to work, try to stand for ten minutes every hour. Gradually increase the time until you feel comfortable standing more than you sit. You’ll also gradually see your focus improve, and your productivity skyrocket.
Essentially, sitting disease deals with the negative effects of sitting for long periods of time throughout the day. This can really throw off your employee wellness program because it’s inadvertently sabotaging the health of your employees. As you build your wellness program and begin to incorporate health into your company culture, promote movement throughout the day to your employees.
Sitting disease might be running rampant throughout your workplace, but all is not lost. Evaluate your wellness program, and integrate these great tips to combat the negative effects a sedentary lifestyle can have on the health of your employees.
What clever ways have you combatted sitting disease?