I have written before that sitting is as deadly as sugar. There is even more evidence that it takes a significant toll on your life. In a study published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, sitting may not only diminish your health, it may actually shorten your lifespan. As I have previously reported, just standing makes a difference. I now have standing desks at work and at home. It may take a little bit of time to build the tolerance for standing longer periods but the health benefits outweigh the discomfort. The picture below is when my desk was first set up. Make sure to get an anti-fatigue gel mat to cushion your feet. There are many types of standing desks, this one is pneumatic with a lever to move it easily up and down. There are smaller desktop versions that allow you to set the height of you computer area without adding another piece of furniture on the floor.
If you review the sitting document you will see just how much damage is done by not moving. From heart disease to colon cancer to brain fog – all a function by being immobile too much of the time. Make sure you take in account that you are not just sitting when you are at your desk. You have to rethink all of the activities that require sitting including attending meetings, watching television and driving. Long distance driving can be difficult without a break just because of sheer exhaustion from being behind the wheel of a car for so many hours. But there is an added risk of increasing spine and hip damage because the lack of movement from being in one position. Make certain to take frequent breaks and get out of the car to walk around and get the blood flowing. If you are a passenger, you can do some isometric exercises to help, like rolling your ankles, extending your legs or just stretching your arms as much as possible but it doesn’t fully compensate for sitting for hours at a time.
Get your self a rebounder and jump on it at every commercial while watching television. This will get you out of your seat and moving over an interval of time without too much effort. You can always build up to where you watch your whole half hour show while bouncing. And of course, if you have a pet, take it for a walk. Both of you can get exercise and they will be healthier for it too! Check out the recommended exercises in the sitting document to give you some ideas of what other things you can do.
It doesn’t matter what your preference is – walking, rebounding, shooting hoops with the kids – just get moving. We spend too much time missing out on life by sitting in one place. There’s a great big world outside – go for a walk and enjoy the beauty of nature or admire the architecture of buildings in the city. Find something beautiful to admire while you relax your mind while moving. You will increase your mental health as well.
And if you have to sit, do it the right way. Our mothers had it right when they told us to sit up straight. My mother would go so far as to move my shoulders back with her hands to straighten out my back when I was a kid. I thought it was silly but she sure knew a lot more by trusting her instincts knowing that sitting up straight was best for your health.