One night with my family over the holidays we were watching a favorite show of ours and my brother, a very active individual, would get up every fifteen minutes to stretch out his legs and get blood flowing to them as he says. We have discussed why he does this before but this time I told myself that I would get to the bottom of it and see if he was really on to something that is truly healthy for you. In theory it makes perfect sense to get up every so often after sitting in a sedentary state for a while to but how much does it really help.
It has been proven that sitting time is correlated to death and disease. In a study done by the American Cancer Society, they found a link between long periods of time spent sitting with higher risk of death from all causes. 1Research done by South Australia Health shows the same correlations between sitting time and being overweight, having diabetes, and a greater chance of heart disease. 2The most likely reasons for this correlation is that the time spent sitting is in place of time spent in an increased heart rate state. This meaning that you are moving but not necessarily exercising vigorously. Time spent looking at and watching screens is ever increasing in our technological society. Usually time spent looking at screens is sedentary. At first technologies like computers and televisions were strictly business use but now there is probably less than ten households in the U.S. that don’t have a device with a screen in them. There is no doubt in my mind that this time spent looking at screens is taking away from our time up and moving around and we now know that this is negatively affecting our health yet we only seem to be creating more of these devices.
Now some of you might be saying that your job requires you to be in a sedentary position for prolonged periods of time. This may be true but there are still ways in which you can break up the time spent sitting. Breaking up the time spent sitting, even if it’s just for five minutes every hour, would be very beneficial to your health.
“Even when adults meet physical activity guidelines, sitting for prolonged periods can compromise metabolic health. TV time and objective-measurement studies show deleterious associations, and breaking up sedentary time is beneficial.” 3This study done by the Exercise and Sport Science Reviews Journal and clearly shows not only that sitting time affects your health but also that breaking your sitting time can help if you have to stay in a sedentary position for an extended amount of time. In a study done by the Center of Physical Activity Research, they find the same kind of results when it comes to breaking up sitting time. “experimental studies provide considerable evidence of the positive effects of breaking up prolonged time spent sitting on metabolic outcomes.” One key part to mention is that it does matter what you break up your sedentary behavior with. If you only break it up with standing and do no other physical activity besides walking and standing then you are still more than likely to be unhealthy.
One must exercise in multiple ways in order to offset the negative effects of sitting. “the type, intensity, and frequency of physical activity necessary to effectively counteract the detrimental effects of prolonged sitting may differ according to the subjects’ characteristics, especially with respect to the subjects’ habitual physical activity level.” 4So now that we know that prolonged sitting time is negative for your health and that breaking it up more often is better for your health, here are a few ways to try to implement this into your day.
Drink more water so that you get up to get more water or use the restroom. This will naturally break up your sitting time as well as make you more hydrated. If you work at a desk for your career then look into getting a standing desk. You can get one that can go from a seated desk to standing so that you can switch between to two. If sitting and watching tv is a part of your day then I suggest getting up after every commercial to move around. If you have a treadmill, walking on it while watching your team play is a great way to watch the game but not get the negative effects of prolonged sitting.
These are just a few things or ways in which you can break up your sitting time more or even lessen the time spent sitting but the best thing to do is just be conscious of how long you are spending in a sedentary state over the course of the day. After realizing this making a real effort to shorten the time spent in that state no matter how you get it done. Hopefully after reading this you want to get up, start moving and change some of the lack of movement habits you may have.
EF Coach Reid
1https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/sitting-time-linked-to-higher-risk-of-death-from-all-causes.html 2https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+internet/healthy+living/is+your+health+at+risk/the+risk+of+sitting+too+much 3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404815/ 4https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/ead1/47fcf041cb954f807e04e2ae9e5377a3a5b1.pdf