You may have heard the term “sitting disease” recently. What does it mean? It refers to the negative health consequences (e.g., obesity and type 2 diabetes) linked with long periods of sedentary behaviour, i.e. sitting for hours on end.Researchers are showing that this kind of behaviour is harmful to our health. What’s more, studies have shown that sitting for long periods can still have negative effects even when you’ve been active at another time during the day, for example: doing a 45-minute workout in the morning and sitting at the office and at home for the rest of the day. While we commend you for the morning workout (remember every move counts!), getting into the habit of moving throughout your entire day is one of the best ways to counteract the negative effects that come from long periods of sitting. This doesn’t mean you have to lift weights at lunch and then swim after work. Simple, subtle movements can keep you active!
Since most of us spend 40 hours or more at work – and in honour of Healthy Workplace Month – here are a few ways to help combat the sitting disease in the workplace:
- If available, get a height-adjustable desk. They lift and lower allowing you to stretch your legs throughout the day.
- Change sedentary tasks into active ones (e.g., stand when reading or talking on the phone) or set a timer to stand up every hour.
- Walk whenever possible. Talk to a colleague in-person rather than on the phone, initiate a walking meeting, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or go for a walk during lunch.
- Monitor your physical activity. There are lots of devices to help you keep track of your movements, like smartphone apps, a wrist band device, or pedometer.
Changes do not have to be drastic. Slowly add these suggestions to your daily routine and stand up against the sitting disease today!
participACTION: The impact of physical inactivity
Statistics Canada: Directly measured physical activity of Canadian adults, 2007 to 2011