Sitting is the new smoking - or so we’ve all been told. One of the most unhealthy lifestyle choices we all make or are forced to make because of our jobs is being sedentary.
And not only does sitting for prolonged periods of time damage our neck, back, and legs. It's a contributing factor to a number of chronic health conditions and a lower quality of life.
It follows, therefore, that it’s in our best interests to move more and sit less - but how exactly can we integrate physical activity into our daily routine?
Assess your baseline
One reason most of us spend so much time sedentary is that we don't have a great concept of how much time we spend in this state.
Using fitness trackers, such as WHOOP, can help you assess how often you're exposing your body to strain. While strain may sound like a negative, when it comes to your bodily health, a little strain goes a long way to improving your overall health! You want your heart to have to pump a little harder and your muscles to activate a few times per day.
Once you get a sense of what your baseline looks like, it's easier to invest in actions that bring you above that baseline. Plus, it helps you track your progress, which can be quite helpful if you're making fitness a long-term part of your life.
Walk to Work
Of course, this one isn’t practical for everybody. Some of us have to commute many miles to our offices, and even a short car journey could take over an hour on foot.
That being said, for many of us, walking to work is certainly something that’s within our capabilities. Simply using our legs to carry us into the office rather than relying on our cars or public transport is an incredibly effective way to keep our bodies moving.
And, if walking to work isn’t a possibility for you, try just walking a little more. Park further away from the doors than you usually do, go for a stroll in your lunch break - anything other than sitting down.
I like to get up and walk around whilst talking on the phone rather than staying seated. It’s small changes like that coupled with regular breaks and movement that add up, working to lessen the harmful effects of being seated and contributing to good health.
Move Every Half an Hour
For those of us that work in an office, forced to sit and work at our laptops day-in, day-out, moving isn’t always easy. Unless we have the liberty of a standing desk or working from portable devices, there aren’t many other ways around the whole sedentary situation.
Instead of replacing the problem, we can get around it simply by making a conscious effort to take breaks from our desks and get up and move around.
Every half an hour or so, just get up, do a couple of stretches, take a few steps around (maybe to the water cooler or toilet) and then return to your seat. Granted, you’ll still be sedentary for most of the working day, but simply taking regular breaks from your chair will work wonders for your spine as well as keeping your body moving and encouraging fat-burning.
Whilst our daily lives might be sedentary, there’s nothing stopping us from getting outside and hitting the pavement in our spare time. Exercises like running, rowing, and anything cardio-based work to keep our heart and bodies healthy, counteracting the effects of being seated for long periods of time.
Most of us have a pretty fixed view of exercise: we hate it. Even for those of us that don’t loathe it with a raging passion, it’s still rarely something we look forward to.
Part of the reason isn’t due to exercise as a whole, but our choice of which exercises to incorporate into our routine. Running isn’t for all of us. In fact, some studies even suggest that running is one of the worst ways to get fit, so instead of forcing yourself to go out and sprint every night, pick an exercise plan that works for you.
Walking, yoga and swimming are all fun cardiovascular exercises built to shed body fat and improve your overall health.
Exercise might not be for everybody, but there’s definitely an exercise out there that everybody can do. Find that, and stick to it.