Inactivity is the New Smoking: How to Fix It
How to Stay Active to Help Your Health
Between sitting in the car, working at our desks, and binge-watching our favorite shows, many of us spend a lot of time sitting.
“Sitting is the new smoking” has become a popular phrase about the health risks of prolonged sitting and has led to the rise of standing desks. But even with standing desks, the key problem remains: inactivity. Our body needs to move and if we’re trading sitting still hours a day for standing still hours a day, we are not getting the movement we need.
The Risks of Being Sedentary
We hear exercise is good, but is being still for hours a day really that bad? In a word: Yes.
Plus, research shows even if you workout before or after all that sitting or standing, it does not undo the damage of being still for hours.
Here are some risks of inactivity, according to Johns Hopkins:
- Higher risk for cardiovascular disease
- Greater risk of developing high blood pressure
- Increased risk for type 2 diabetes
- Increased likelihood of coronary heart disease. This is even after researchers accounted for smoking, alcohol use, and diet.
- Contributes to feelings of anxiety and depression
- May increase the risk of certain cancers
On the flip side, research showed physically active overweight or obese people significantly reduced their risk for disease with regular physical activity.
Also, older adults who are physically active can reduce their risk for falls and improve their ability to do daily activities.
How to Improve Your Workstation
Many of us still need to be at a desk or workstation for hours a day, but there are improvements you can make so it takes less of a toll on your body.
Set an alarm and get moving
Set an alarm on your phone for every 30 minutes and make sure you walk a bit—to the bathroom, break room or water cooler or do a lap around the office. It doesn’t have to be something major but every bit helps.
Shift your weight
Move at your workstation throughout your day and take 20-30 second mini breaks to move. Try leaning from side to side, shifting from one foot to the other, or standing on your toes and then your heels a few times.
A great way to help movement is to stand on a vestibular disc at your workstation that encourages you to balance your weight.
Here are some more ideas for how to move at your desk.
Get a treadmill desk
If you have the means or can convince your workplace of the benefits of moving more, work and walk at the same time on a treadmill desk. You won’t go at a quick pace as you would at the gym but you’ll keep moving.