Don't just sit there!
Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD | physical activity 
We all know that getting more exercise is good for us, but that may not be enough. While moving more is good, being sedentary less often is also important. Some health experts are even calling sitting the new smoking. So, if you went to the gym this morning, don’t use that as an excuse to sit around the rest of the day.
What’s wrong with sitting?
New evidence suggests that too much sitting, such as working at a desk, watching television and other low energy activities, is a risk factor by itself for poor health. While the research is still in the early phases and the exact reasons why sitting isn’t good for us aren’t fully known yet, there is almost no downside to moving more. So for now, even if the only benefit you get from sitting less is feeling less stiffness at the end of the day, it is worth giving it a try.
How much do we need to move?
Most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. Spending even more time being active can offer additional benefits. While 150 minutes may sound like a long time, you don’t have to do it all at once. Breaking it up over five days, you are only looking at 30 minutes per day. If that seems like too much at one time, you can break that down into smaller 10 minute time blocks.
Tricks to sitting less
Standing desks or workstations have become popular and are even available in adjustable versions that allow you to do some of your work seated and then pop the desk up for some standing time. Instead of sitting around a conference table, consider standing or walking meetings. They can get your whole team moving and may even spark some creativity. If you need to be reminded to get up and move, there are apps and activity trackers that will alert you when you have been still for too long. Or, you can keep it simple and set daily alarms to remind you to get up and move a little. Whichever option you choose, remember that a check in with your healthcare provider is always a good first step.
1. Dunstan DW, Howard B, Healy GN, Owen N. Too much sitting--a health hazard. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2012 Sep;97(3):368-76.
2. van der Ploeg HP, Chey T, Korda RJ, Banks E, Bauman A. Sitting time and all-cause mortality risk in 222 497 Australian adults. Arch Intern Med. 2012 Mar 26;172(6):494-500..
3. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 2008. Available at
October 2014
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