By Zoë Korbin
We’re all familiar with the benefits of exercising, but did you know that sitting for long periods of time could actually undo your efforts—and shorten your life? Known as “sitting disease,” the problem is so serious that researchers are comparing it to smoking in terms of increased risk of death from heart disease. Prolonged periods of sitting wreak havoc on the body’s metabolic system—in addition to increasing the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome and heart disease, they also heighten the danger of developing cancer and dementia. Even exercising for an hour each day can’t reverse the health hazards of sitting for hours at a time (though it does still help). The good news is, there’s a simple solution—getting up frequently and making a point to move more throughout the day. It’s crucial that we plan for more moments of movement—and until they become habitual, gentle “nudges” are essential. For example, set an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up—once an hour for five minutes is a good way to start. You might also create reminders that pop up on your computer at work and post written or visual reminders on your desk. Below are some additional ideas to help you stand up for your health!
- Walk around or in place while on the phone or watching TV
- Invest in a standing desk (or create your own)
- Get up and talk instead of emailing or texting if the recipient is in walking distance
- Meet friends for a long, relaxing walk instead of a drink or meal
- Hold walking or standing meetings at work
- Stand and move while you wait
- Obey the “one mile” rule—always try to walk to your destination if it is less than one mile away
- Make the most of chores by doing exercises such as lunges while vacuuming, squats while loading the dishwasher…gardening, lawn-mowing and raking leaves are also great workouts
- Let someone else have that parking spot up front—park farther away on purpose and walk
- Look for “exercise opportunities” throughout the day
Summer is a perfect time to practice standing up for your health. Take advantage of the weather to get up and out—or just up! All of these small steps create big change.
Wellness Foundation is pleased to present the third of four articles in our Wellness 360 Series. We believe in a full circle approach to health; one that includes a plant-centric, whole-foods diet, physical activity, mindfulness, and social connection. In the last two articles, we provided some (whole) food for thought and talked about the importance of mindful moments. To learn more about our programs, visit our website at wfeh.org.