You’ve probably heard it a time or two: Sitting all day – it’s bad.
Experts have long said staying glued in front of your computer at the office or at home has a lengthy list of negative side effects that include:
- Increased risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, dementia, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and cancer
- Erasing benefits of exercise
- Weight gain
- Anxiety spikes
- Back injuries
- Varicose veins
- Shortened life-span (yikes!)
Plus, it just doesn’t feel good — stiff muscles, weird aches and pains, sore joints — they’re all something you’ve probably endured after a full day plopped on a chair.
It’s even more detrimental for weight loss, especially if you’ve put effort into shedding pounds, seen some progress on the scale and don’t want those effects to reverse. In fact, a recent study published in Obesity found that people who’d lost weight and kept the weight off sat less than those who didn’t.
The study followed about 4,300 people who had a 54-pound weight loss average and kept the weight off for at least three years. The results? The people who’d maintained it best sat approximately three fewer hours a day.
It’s a look at the effects of sitting that follows previous research that found that movement throughout the day can also improve vigor, energy levels, mood, cognition and appetite control.
Convinced yet? Awesome.
Here’s how to take that next step (literally) and get it done!
Work. Walk. Work. Walk.
If you’re like most people, you probably have an 8- to 9-hour workday, and the majority of it is spent tapping away in front of a computer screen. (Even more so now cc: COVID). Commit to the work-walk-work-walk method, where you spend 55 minutes working and 5 minutes walking every hour, even if it’s just taking a few laps around your living room. Yes, it seems simple enough, but we all know there are times when you’re in the middle of a task and don’t want to tear yourself away from it. That’s why you literally need to force yourself to do it — and do it consistently. The more you do it, the more it will turn into a habit and the easier it will become.
Set a timer.
Now that you’ve committed to walking at the top of the hour, put that little smart-thingamajigger you carry with you everywhere to use! Set a timer on your smartphone that goes off at the :55-mark of every work hour to remind you it’s time for the living room laps or quick outdoor walk to the end of the block and back.
Or…get a fitness tracking band.
These handy little devices are good for a lot more than counting steps! Most have a wide array of functionalities that include monitoring your heart rate, estimating calorie burn, tracking restful sleep and even buzzing to remind you to get up and move!
Find excuses to walk it up at work.
Once you’re on your way to hourly steppage, take it to the next level! Have to make a phone call? Yeah, you’re going to be walking during that. Meeting with colleagues? Make it a walking-meeting. Need to just think? Walk while you do it. Once you start looking for ways to move at work, you’ll be shocked at just how many excuses you can find to tear away from the computer.
Bask in that feeling.
At the end of the day, a day you really committed to walking at least once an hour, sit with it for a bit — ok not literally “sit”, but really slow down and tune into how you’re feeling. Is your mind calmer? Did you control your appetite better that day? Do your muscles and joints feel sore? Do you feel happier? You might even want to write the answers to those questions down and compare them day-by-day, taking into account the days you sat more and sat less.
Don’t erase all your hard work losing weight or exercising by being sedentary all day. And again, the more you do this, the easier it will get and the quicker you’ll start realizing all the amazing health benefits of keeping things moving — literally!
Author: Caitlin H
Diet-to-Go Community Manager
Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.