As a physiotherapist, I’m actually pretty lucky (in a lot of ways!). My job allows me to move around for a good portion of my day. Between our exercise programs and my treatment sessions, I wouldn’t say that it is a sedentary job.
When I went back to do my PhD, I didn’t know how much it was helping me that I didn’t need to sit behind a desk all day. With school I started sitting more because there was much more time spent reading research articles and writing on my lap top. I felt more tired by the end of the day than I had used to and my body just felt STIFF.
Sitting too much, or being more sedentary, is a growing concern for many of us. Research studies are starting to pile up investigating the negative effects of sitting. The term “sitting is the new smoking” has grown in popularity and it’s true!
A systematic review from Harvey and colleagues in 2015 looked at the risk of different chronic conditions because of sitting too much. The results were pretty worrisome. There was an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, several types of cancer, diabetes, among others. The worst part was that exercise helped but didn’t erase the damage completely.
As we get older, it gets worse. The story around aging is starting to change. For many years we thought sharp decreases in our strength, ability to move around and exercise were because we were getting older. But studies using older athletes are starting to show a different trend.
Sure as we get older, we see declines in our body’s ability to heal and recover, it breaks down more often. But some of these changes are a consequence of the fact that as we get older, we also SIT… A LOT! Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy where we sit more and it leads to less strength, more tiredness and overall just being warn out and making us sit even more. Appreciating the fact that our body’s were made to move and age isn’t a reason to sit all day is what we need as a population to be healthy and strong into our 7th, 8th, 9th decades.
So here are some tips for you to consider to move more throughout your day if you have times (like me) when I’m stuck behind a computer.
1. Set a stand up alarm. We can only focus for 45 minutes to an hour at a time anyway. Set an alarm and when it goes off, get up, stretch or go for a quick walk. It will wake your brain up too if you’re starting to go into the inevitable fog from staring at a computer screen too long.
2.Standing Desks. They are becoming the new thing. If you have the opportunity, they can be a great option. Most of them are set up to have the ability to sit and stand so that you can change position but still keep working.
3.Drink water. Although it may be annoying to have to go to the bathroom, it’s also a good reason to get up. Your body will force you to move to the bathroom!
4.Go for a walk at lunch time. Even if it’s only 10 minutes. Make it a priority. You’ll be more efficient in the afternoon, more awake and there are a ton of mental health benefits to being outside (rain or shine).
5.Go talk to colleagues or pick something up from a further printer. Need a quick response about something? Go over to a colleague’s desk and ask. Or if you need to print something, send it to a printer that requires you to get up to go get it.
We all can think of little ways we can incorporate standing into our day. When I’m reading papers, sometimes I’ll stand up to read parts of them. Nick judges me a little bit, but hey so what (we’re getting married, I’m a little used to it!).
Trust me, you’ll notice a difference. How are ways that you’ve started getting yourself standing more during your workday?
Chastin, S. F., Buck, C., Freiberger, E., Murphy, M., Brug, J., Cardon, G., . . . DEDIPAC consortium. (2015). Systematic literature review of determinants of sedentary behaviour in older adults: A DEDIPAC study. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 12, 127-015-0292-3. doi:10.1186/s12966-015-0292-3 [doi]
Harvey, J. A., Chastin, S. F., & Skelton, D. A. (2015). How sedentary are older people? A systematic review of the amount of sedentary behavior. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 23(3), 471-487. doi:10.1123/japa.2014-0164 [doi]