Last year, I wrote a blog, Is Sitting the New Smoking? In that blog, I reported on the impact of too much sitting on physical health. Too much sitting is linked to heart disease, diabetes, and early death from all causes. That’s right, the World Health Organization puts sitting or physical inactivity 4th on the list of risk factors for death worldwide.
So what do we do with these findings?
It’s time to crank up the James Brown, “Get up off of that thing,” and start to move! If you are a couch potato or a typical office worker, here are your marching (literally) orders.
Professor of ergonomics at Cornell University, Dr. Alan Hedge, recommends we get up and move at regular intervals. Dr. Hedge says it is important to break up our activity. Specifically, he recommends we sit for 20 minutes, stand for 8 minutes, then move around and stretch for 2 minutes. This means every 20 minutes, we are moving around.
I was in a 3 hour meeting the other day, so I am thinking, how am I going to do this? It seems a bit disruptive. My colleagues would think I lost it if I got up every 20 minutes and stood, then stretched. This isn’t going to work in some parts of the business day.
However, as I sit hour after hour working at my computer, I could give this a try. So I did, but it really ruined my train of thought. I was on a creative roll and then, oops, time to get up and move. I did and lost my train of thought.
So here’s the thing. I’m going with the spirit of the research. As much as I can, I will make it a point to get up and move, stand for some minutes and walk around the building. The key here is movement. Sit, then stand, sit, stand…alternate. Too much sitting or standing isn’t good for our health.
We have to make this work as the researchers found that regular exercise doesn’t mitigate the effects of all our sitting. Sitting too much changes our bodies in negative ways, so we need to change it up. Shake it up, yes, Taylor!
Here are a few ideas I am trying:
1) I don’t have one of those stand up desks,but I do have a shelf that I could move my computer to for a few moments to stand. I’m going to give it a try.
2) I’m being more intentional about standing up and moving around when I am working on the computer. I set my IPHONE on a reminder.
3) I asked a few people to walk and talk instead of meet at a table. They thought I was weird!
4) I stood at the back of the room during a meeting. Yes, it is awkward, but people now know I am doing that health thing.
5) I take the stairs everywhere.
6) I take a short walk at lunch.
Overall, I got the message, but need to work on the application. Let me know if you have more suggestions.