For most of us, sitting is just part of the job. We sit at our desks, we sit in meetings, we sit at lunch. Then maybeafter work we finally get out of the office and move our bodies through exercise. But even if we power through a grueling 60-minute workout, new research shows that it won’t cancel out all that sitting from earlier in the day – and it doesn’t guarantee our health. In fact, even those who meet the public health guidelines for exercise may have elevated health risks if they sit for too long.
According to Dr. David Alter of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network and Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, there are two distinct movement-based factors that impact our health: 1) the amount of time we spend sitting – or sedentary – during the day; and 2) the amount of exercise we get. While the two seem to go hand-in-hand, researchers looked at 47 studies and found that “regardless of physical activity level, prolonged sedentary time was independently associated with bad health outcomes.”
Recommend strategies to combat so much sitting are markedly different from those recommended for exercise, and they are not meant to replace your daily workout. For example, one suggestion is to stand up and walk around for a few minutes every half-hour, which could result in “nearly an hour less of sitting every day.” Another recommendation is to stand for part of the time while working or watching TV, which can burn twice as many calories as sitting.
So the next time you’re tasked to write a report or invited to join a co-worker for lunch, consider alternatives to the traditional “sit down.” Invest in a standing workstation or suggest a walk after eating. Your body will thank you for it in the long run.
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