That’s the general message from the National Heart Foundation after a Canadian study revealed that more than half of the average person’s waking lives are spent sitting down. The disturbing results of the research found that people who sat for prolonged periods had a higher risk of dying from causes such as heart disease and diabetes – even those who exercised regularly. It also puts us at risk of poor mental and emotional health along with other chronic health conditions.
Sitting on a serious problem
National Heart Foundation CEO, Mary Barry, said the epidemic levels of sedentary behaviour could consign Australians to live lives threatened by ill health and early death. She even compared sitting to smoking.
“Just as smoking destroyed the health of generations of Australians, so too does sedentary behaviour have the potential to consign too many of us to an early grave,” Ms Barry said.
“While the health impacts of smoking are only too well known, the sad reality is that the health impacts of sitting too much are either not known as well or taken seriously enough.”
Consider how many of the things you do that involve sitting. Watching television, using the computer, working at a desk, driving, playing video games, sitting on the train, dining at a table and…oh no! It seems like for many of us, we’re sitting throughout the whole day! Here are five ways to get up on your feet a little bit more on a work day.
1. Go for a morning walk/swim
Getting out of bed for work in the morning can be very difficult, but what if you had something to look forward to? Like a beautiful sunrise on a light morning walk? Try setting your wake-up alarm half an hour earlier tonight and try a morning walk. You might even have a more positive outlook on the day after it, not to mention being more active.
2. Get off the bus earlier than you have to
Force yourself to walk just that little bit further to work by getting off the bus two stops early, or parking a few hundred more metres away
3. Use the stairs
If your building has a lift, try using the stairs! Of course, if you’re more than twenty floors up (like the CANSTAR head office) you could always catch the lift most of the way and walk the last five floors up.
4. Go for walking meetings
Many hours of a day are spent sitting in a meeting. Why not try organising a walking meeting then? You’ll all be sitting less, getting fresh air and the ideas might be a little bit more creative with the extra stimulation of walking outside as a group.
5. Get a standing desk
Of course, if you work in an office, you could always get a standing desk. Many workplaces offer these. This would greatly reduce your sitting hours as well as burn more calories throughout the day. Talk to your Human Resources pmanager about arranging a standing desk.
What else can I do?
You could also join the gym of course, and some health insurance funds offer rebates for activity-related costs. Some health funds also have great wellness information available online; try the Bupa health age calculator as a good starting point.