By Dr. Sudip Bose, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Smoking one cigarette is the medical equivalent of cutting one hour off your life. You may have heard that oft-quoted statistic before.
By the same token, sitting for too long can shave time off your longevity as well.
There are some major things regarding health that are effected by the amount of time you sit vs. stand or engage in anything else active. Sitting for long periods of time can effect your cardiovascular health, it can hasten the slide towards obesity; people who have sitting jobs are about 2.5 times more obese than those who do not.
Sitting also has an effect on mortality — death. Data shows that people who sit three hours a day vs. people who sit six hours a day. The people who sit six hours a day have a 40 percent increased chance of death. If you have an office job that requires you to sit for long amounts of time, there are some things you can do to mitigate the “sitting effect” and lessen the impact of sitting on your overall health. These are small things, but if you’re mindful of them, they can help:
- Take phone calls standing up
- Set a timer reminder and get out of your chair every 30 minutes or so
- Park farther away from your office and walk more
- Take the stairs and not the elevator or escalator
All these will help with blood flow and help circulate oxygen throughout your body and especially to your brain. It can help make you more productive.
A lot of companies have helped employees by getting them standing desks, and even treadmills, where you can cycle or walk while you work. This helps with both the physical aspects of your well being as well as the cognitive aspects.
Be aware of evenings as well, when you’re not on the job. We tend to sit more often at home, too, if we don’t have jobs that require us to stand or walk around. Get a dog, go for a walk; or just go for a walk without a dog after dinner. Exercise on your own is important. Be accountable. Get a trainer to help hold you accountable and advise you on how best to reach your goals, whether those center around general fitness or health, gaining strength, losing weight or any combination of those.
These are little “tweaks” you can make in your lifestyle that will help your health and slowly become a benefit rather than be slowly detrimental if you do nothing and remain sedentary. As you get older, you feel like sitting more. And then as you get even older, you feel like lying more.
There’s a 30-day fitness challenge you can give yourself. We’re talking about a lifestyle change. For 30 days, try to stand more. If you do that one simple thing, you’ll notice a difference. This could be a simple thing that actually would save your life. From there you can springboard to more difficult fitness challenges.
Do yourself a favor and take this small, 30-day challenge. You have one life, make it count.