We all know that sitting too long isn’t good for our health, but that doesn’t always mean it’s easy to avoid. Working hours, commuting, and the need to chill out after a long day all mean we do probably end up sitting longer than we should or even would like to.
Aches and pains are a common complaint for office workers. Sitting scrunched over a laptop and not moving your legs for hours on end causes your muscles to cramp and get used to these positions, reducing flexibility and potentially damaging posture.
Sitting too long can also have negative impacts on your health. Headaches, increased stress, poor digestion, and increased risk of blood clots. Basically, all the opposites of an active lifestyle are more likely if you don’t balance out your sedentary hours.
It’s not all bad news though as there are many, simple things you can do in order to fight off the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
How to combat sedentary lifestyles
There are going to be things you can do while in the sedentary part of your day, and during your free time too. Doing what you can from both categories will give you a more balanced lifestyle and give you the best chances of fighting the effects of sedentary habits.
Many of these you will have heard before, but it’s always useful to get a reminder. It’s easy to get stuck into a routine and forget to make the positive changes you want to implement. Take this time to read the below and really think about what you can do in your daily life. The key, as always, is to pick what’s sustainable and what you will actually enjoy doing.
Things you can do while working:
- Use a standing desk when possible, or move around regularly e.g. kitchen counter to outdoor seat to bookshelf
- Take a walk or stand if you’re on talking only calls
- Schedule in breaks into your diary so you stand up and stretch (or just go to the bathroom if that’s awkward)
- Use your lunch break to get in some movement. This can be as simple as just standing, going for a walk or even fitting in a mini gym session or some stretching
- Think about posture and try to sit comfortably and correctly
- If you get uncomfortable, move
- Try some chair stretches
You should be trying to sit in a position where your shoulders are relaxed and your hips, knees and ankles are all at 90 degrees. If you can get your feet flat on the floor that’s perfect. Your screen should be at eye level so your neck isn’t bent down and your arms should be at no less than 90 degrees to reach your keyboard.
Things you can do in your free time:
- A minimum of 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity a week
- Incorporate strength training (weights) into your weekly routine
- Wear a heart rate tracker to ensure you’re pushing yourself enough
- Stay active when with your friends e.g. play football, go for a swim instead of the cinema
- Walk and take the stairs whenever possible
- Find pockets of time for movement. e.g. taking a walk after dinner, doing a 2 min chore while the TV is showing adverts
- Find active hobbies you love e.g. gardening, dog walking, wild swimming
- Schedule time for the gym, and stick to it