Between work, driving, and nightly Netflix, the average U.S. adult sits for eight hours every day. This sedentary lifestyle, which many doctors have coined as ‘sitting disease,’ has a number of fatal effects on the human body and increases the likelihood of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Along with greater risk of disease, long-term sitting also affects fitness through disk damage, leading to an inflexible spine, softer bones, and muscle degeneration.
While regular exercise helps maintain overall fitness, it does not counteract the effects of sitting eight hours a day.
However, there are simple ways to offset the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle: simply move. Taking more opportunities to walk throughout the day helps the body maintain a higher metabolism and stay active.
- Take the stairs
Though the elevator may be tempting, taking the stairs has great benefits to your overall health and energy during the workday. Climbing the stairs burns an average of 8 to 11 kcal of energy per minute, and studies show a significantly lowered risk of mortality when climbing more than 55 flights of steps each week. That’s an average of eight flights of stairs each day.
If 55 flights of stairs seem daunting, taking even two flights of stairs daily may lead to an overall weight loss of 6 pounds throughout the year.
By routinely saying “no” to the elevator, you are improving muscle and joint health, helping maintain healthy bones, and increasing blood flow.
- Get more face time
Instead of sending an email to your colleague across the hall or calling your co-worker in accounting, take a walk to visit his or her office. Taking a few extra minutes every hour to stand up and walk across the building will get your muscles moving, stretch out your spine, and increase your energy throughout the day.
- Split up office errands
It may seem inefficient, but instead of making copies and dropping off a shipment to the mailroom at one time, divide your errands throughout the day. This increases your number of opportunities to stand up and move, and the added time throughout the day is minimal compared to the afternoon burnout you may feel after spending numerous hours sitting at your desk.
- Spend lunchtime wisely
Whether your lunch break is thirty minutes or an hour, spend your break moving. Consider eating while standing at a bar, or go on a walk after eating. A study conducted by the University of Birmingham showed that walking for thirty minutes during lunch relieved tension and stress level while increasing walkers’ overall enthusiasm.