The Detrimental Effects of Prolonged Sitting [And 8 Ways to Combat It]

Busy professionals need simple fitness hacks to improve their overall health while minimizing the amount of obligation that it requires.

Getting to the gym, working out, eating whole foods, and meal prepping all require a lot of work and long-term commitments. 

Is there anything that you can do for your fitness that is simple and easy to do? 

Fortunately, there is one strategy that you can begin implementing right now that has proven to have a profound impact on your health. 

It is so simple, that anyone can do it, right now, while you're at work, with no equipment.

 
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The Simple Health Tactic You Should Start Using Right Now

So what is this secret strategy?

Get up from your seat. 

The vast majority of Americans spend a ridiculously large amount of time sitting down. Just think about it. Try and quantify how many hours a day you are sitting down. This includes driving, commuting, working in front of a computer, eating, watching television, the list goes on. 

The average American sits for more than six hours a day, with many individuals sitting upwards of eight hours or more! 

prolonged sitting

"A 2008 Study in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that Americans sit on average for 7.7 hours per day"

 

What You Ought to Know about Prolonged Sitting

Under activity is one of the leading causes of obesity and all of the negative consequences that come with it.

Doctors and other busy professionals often spend numerous hours behind a computer documenting and going through charts.

 

Prolonged Sitting  

  • Slows down your metabolism as your body consumes less energy from inactivity,

  • Decreases circulation to your muscles, brain, and other organs as your muscles aren't being engaged

  • Forces your muscles into weakened, shortened, and contracted position leading to a gradual decline in your posture and 

  • Long-term bone demineralization

 

Studies have also linked sitting time with increased levels of cardiovascular risk, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and overall mortality.

Even if you were to exercise for 30 minutes a day, seven days a week the effects of prolonged sitting cannot be undone. 

Have you heard of the 23 1/2 hour rule? Even though you may exercise for 30 minutes a day, the remaining 23 1/2 hours may include a significant amount of sedentary activity. In other words, 30 minutes of activity cannot negate 23.5 hours of inactivity.

We were not designed to sit around all day. But there is a simple solution.

prolonged sitting

"Sitting is the new smoking.. it can increase morbidity from cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes..."

 

 

The Solution 

Fortunately, there is one simple thing that you can do to combat the negative effects of sitting- get up and walk around often. The American Heart Association has made clear and consistent guidelines that we should aim to take 10,000 steps a day. 

Most people don't come anywhere near this figure. You may be shocked at how little you actually walk. 

Walking is so underrated. Put simply, it is the easiest and most readily forms of exercise that anyone and can perform on a regular basis.  Read more about it at Walking For Weight Loss [The Most Underrated Way To Lose Weight].

Just the physical act of moving around and decreasing the amount of consecutive time that you are sitting provides a large range of benefits to us.

In fact, even if you do not exercise, taking 10,000 steps a day could provide just as much, (and possibly more) health benefits than a basic gym routine would.

Many popular smartphones and other fitness gadgets have added step trackers to encourage their users to aim for this goal.

I personally use a Fitbit Alta to track my steps. You can even set hourly reminders to get up and take a few steps.

It also can track simple exercises such as walking, jogging, and cycling. 

 
 "Why does she have to be such an overachiever?"

"Why does she have to be such an overachiever?"

 

 

8 Easy Ways to Get 10,000 Steps a Day

Here are 8 strategies that you can use to decrease the amount of consecutive sitting time and increase the number of steps you are taking.

- Set an alarm on your phone to go off every hour reminding you to get up and take a 5 min break. The Fitbit also has this feature.

- Try and get up, and walk around every time you are talking on the phone

- Get off the elevator 2 flights before your floor and walk the rest of the way

- Take a 10-20 minute walk every day after work

- Drink more water to increase the number of times you have to go to the bathroom

- Park in the back of the parking lot

- Get off the subway or bus one stop before your destination, and walk the rest

- Take the long scenic route home

 

So there you have it. Get off your behind and start moving. Even if you do not achieve 10,000 steps a day, constantly moving around/fidgeting can prevent the ill effects of under-activity by increasing circulation. 

If you would like to learn more about exercising in addition to taking 10,000 steps a day, you can check out our series of training.  It starts with the 3 Basic Principles Of Exercise You Need To Know Before Working Out.

Start using these tips today and start improving your health right now. 

 

In a nutshell

- Most Americans sit for approximately 6-8 hrs a day

- Prolonged sitting decreases metabolism, worsens blood circulation and increases overall mortality secondary to chronic disease

- Getting up to move more often can prevent these ill effects

- 10K steps a day is doable!  Even if you don't reach this milestone daily, just move around constantly.

-Do not stay in the same position for prolonged periods of time.

Take a Stand: The Effects of Sitting at Work

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Alex & Brittany Robles are the founders of The White Coat Trainer, a site dedicated to improving the health and wellness of busy individuals. Learn more about them here and connect with them on instagram and Twitter. Feel free to send them a message here