For every hour we spend sitting in our chairs we lose two hours of our lives.
~ James Levine, MD, PhD, and Author of: Get Up! Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About It
We’ve known for decades that smoking is a killer habit, and any health conscious VIBER has probably never smoked. But sitting? When did relaxing on our butts get such a dangerous rap?
Research strongly supports this accusation, and the numbers don’t lie. In fact, many experts believe sitting is actually worse than smoking. Every cigarette smoked reduces your life expectancy by 11 minutes. And according to James Levine, MD, and author of: Get up! Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do about It, “For every hour we spend sitting in our chairs we lose two hours of our lives.” Even worse, one study suggests that office workers who smoke were healthier than those who sit too much, as the smokers got up every 30-60 minutes to go outside and smoke.
The research on the negative effects of sitting includes another study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, which reviewed data from 54 countries. This study reported that sitting for more than three hours a day contributed to 3.8 percent of deaths from all causes. In fact, sitting has been determined to be an independent risk factor for premature aging and early death, even if you exercise regularly.
Chronic health problems believed to be linked to “sitting disease”
- Heart Disease
• Back pain
• Decreased mobility and flexibility
• Weight gain
• Lowers mental health
• Higher risk of being disabled
7 Tips to Help You Stop Sitting
- Take inventory
You can’t change what you don’t recognize. Review your sitting habits at work, at home, and in the car, and make note of how many hours a day you’re sitting, and for how long you sit uninterrupted. Think about how you can reduce your sitting time. Commit to mixing it up with short bursts of activity, walking, stretching, or at the very least, standing.
- Take movement breaks—and then take some more
If you work at a desk job, make it a priority to take movement breaks at least every hour. Ten minutes per hour is an excellent target; even better is a 2-minute standing/stretch/walk every 20 minutes. Need to speak to a colleague? Walk over to their office instead of calling or emailing. Make the water cooler your new best friend and get up to get fresh water frequently. Do your own photocopying. Schedule “walking meetings” in place of board rooms. Design your new “work habits” around getting up and down as frequently as possible.
- Redefine “break time”
Decades ago, when many jobs were physical in nature, “rest breaks” were times to sit and relax for a few minutes. Our modern lives have flipped this around—with corporate and tech jobs being mostly sedentary—so flip your coffee and meal times to “movement breaks,” and use this time to walk, stretch, squat, lunge, and move. You have more than 640 muscles, and they are designed to move all day and move frequently.
- Take the Sitting/Rising Test
The Sitting/Rising test evaluates your ability to sit on the floor, and then stand from sitting on the floor without using your hands or knees to get up. Contributing factors include muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. To test yourself, sit on the floor, and then get up, using as few body supports as possible. For each body part you use to get up, subtract a point from a perfect score of 10. For example, if you use a hand to balance yourself as you sit, and then use a hand and knee to get back up, your score would be 7 (10-3). Each increase in your score equates to a 21% improvement in survival.
- Plan to Stand
Configure your office to get you up on your feet! As VIBERS we know you’re creative and committed to making your space the best it can be. Move your files so you have to stand and stretch to get them. Get a standing desk so your spine is straight and you are energized all day. Get up and pace the office when you’re on the phone. If you work home-based, take movement breaks to load/unload the dishwasher or laundry; sweep a room or patio; toss the garbage; take out the compost; etc. Stand and move frequently, at least every hour.
- Stand at least 35 times per day
Standing up over 30 times a day is a powerful antidote to long periods of sitting and is more effective than walking. In fact, research shows that standing up every hour is better for your cardiovascular and metabolic health than walking on a treadmill for 15 minutes!
- Increase your G-habits
Dr. Joan Vernikos, author of: Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, is the former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division. Her research on the effects of gravity and reduced gravity on astronauts contributes to her advice to increase your gravity habits, with “G-habits,” by exerting your body against gravity with G-FORCE such a VIBING.
“We were designed to squat. We were designed to kneel. Sitting is okay, but it’s uninterrupted sitting that is bad for us,” says Dr. Vernikos. “We are not designed to sit continuously. We are not designed to be in quasi-microgravity. It’s not how many hours of sitting that’s bad for you; it’s how often you interrupt that sitting that is good for you.”