Feeling Sedentary? Here's How to Avoid Sitting Too Much

woman sitting at a computer looking bored
Sitting too much can have a negative impact on your health.

by Steven Auger

 

Chances are high that you're reading this article from a seated position. You might be taking an internet (or coffee!) break at work, or perhaps you're surfing the web while you eat lunch.

Regardless, people who have 9 to 5 jobs where they're at a desk or driving for long periods of time often sit a lot. Being sedentary for long stretches throughout the day isn't always best for your health. Here's what you need to know if you find yourself sitting too much at your desk.

Health Effects of Sitting Too Much

According to a report published in Annals of Internal Medicine, more than half of an average person's time is spent sitting. Sitting is classified as working at a computer, commuting, watching television or performing other physically inactive functions. The findings, taken from 47 studies about the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, might surprise you.

Negative health effects stemming from sitting too much include some of the more serious medical conditions. Cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes were more commonly found in sedentary people. Researchers have also suggested that there's a link between a lack of activity and an increased risk for dementia.

Increased blood pressure, excess body fat around the waist, abnormal cholesterol levels and high blood sugar can also result from sitting too much, the Mayo Clinic notes.

Benefits of Staying Physically Active

Physical activity provides a ton of health benefits. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that being more physically active can help control your weight by creating a calorie deficit. It can also reduce your risk of certain diseases like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, as well as colon and breast cancer. Through regular activity, your bones and muscles become stronger and more supportive. Additionally, your mental health improves and you can increase your chances of living longer.

How to Get Moving

First things first, decide when and how you'd like to start. There are plenty of ways to achieve this goal in (and out of) the gym.

Harvard Health notes that there are a number of simple, yet effective exercises you can do. Explore the different options at the gym to mix up your routine. Start by walking to improve your mood, help with cholesterol levels, and burn calories. All you need is a decent pair of walking shoes. If you want to add more variety, give strength training a try. You don't need to become "jacked," but lifting weights can help keep your muscles strong and healthy. Strength training also burns calories (even if you lift light weights). And there are always new options available at the gym. You can try a new cardio option, or ask a trainer for ideas on mixing it up.

You can find ways to incorporate more physical activity into your workday even if you have a sedentary job. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), you can institute some small changes during your work day to sneak in some physical activity. Start by parking farther away from the office door. You'll have a longer walk to and from your car. Next, take the stairs to your floor instead of the elevator. Once you reach your office, try using a standing or treadmill desk every so often instead of sitting all day. When lunch rolls around, consider going for a walk instead of surfing the web. You'll feel refreshed and invigorated.

Just because you have a desk job doesn't mean you can't find ways to avoid sitting too much throughout the day. As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.