How to add movement to your day and combat the dangers of sitting

How much of your day do you spend in a seated position? Would you try to sit less if you learned that your chair was slowly killing you?

The connection between a sedentary lifestyle and health problems isn’t exactly new, but when James Levine, a Mayo Clinic researcher, declared that “sitting is more dangerous than smoking,” the conversation shifted into a higher gear. Numerous studies link sitting with cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, muscular issues, high cholesterol and depression.

This list of maladies should be enough to get the attention of any desk-bound worker, but what should be done about it?

The answer is tantalizingly simple: we need to sit less and move more! Getting all those butts out of all those chairs is a daunting proposition, but the positive health effects can easily outweigh the extra effort.

Take steps to sit less

The good news is there are many steps you and your employees can take to break down the culture of prolonged sitting. Levine recommends making a plan to work movement into your day .

Here are six ideas for cutting back on chair time.

1. Get up and move.

Find the time to move and stretch throughout the workday. Give yourself a time limit in that chair and make it a priority to stand up and give your body a break from sitting.

2. Make exercise part of your routine.

While it won’t completely reverse the effects of an entire day of sitting, regular vigorous activity will add years to your life expectancy.

3. Consider sit/stand workstations.

An increasing variety of desk setups and devices facilitate a transition between sitting and standing with little or no impact on productivity. Don’t forget that standing desks have their own ergonomic considerations.

4. Walk and talk.

Before you gather around a table for that next meeting, consider combining it with a walk outside or around the office building.

5. Be aware of how much time you and the others in your office are sedentary.

Make it a challenge to learn which activities can be performed while standing or on the move.

6. Lead by example.

If you show that you’re serious about reducing chair time, others will take notice and do the same.

With a combined approach and a little creativity, you can significantly reduce the amount of time you and your employees spend in a sedentary position and get on a path toward better health.

5 incredibly simple ways to add movement to your workday

For more ideas, see our Get Up and Move page for videos and posters with stretches you can do at your desk, and many more free resources.

This post was originally published on April 16, 2015, and updated on June 1, 2017.

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