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Sedentary scare
Stand up for health
Sitting down for prolonged periods each day can have much more serious consequences for your health than simply putting on weight.

Hours and hours are spent sitting at desks
Hours and hours are spent sitting at desks

04.09.2014 - A new term is being coined to reflect the seriousness of a sedentary lifestyle.  ‘Sitting disease’ may sound slightly ridiculous but the phrase sums the problem up perfectly: if you spend too much of your life sat down you are putting yourself at risk of several serious conditions.

Take a moment to consider the amount of time you spend sitting each day: driving to work or the kids to school, for eight hours at your desk, and then unwinding on the couch in front of the television all evening.  Even if you don’t do all of these things, the number of hours many of us actually spend sat down out of every 24-hour period is frightening when you add it up.

Most of us are aware of the risks associated with long plane flights, but those and other problems can occur without even leaving the ground, as many are learning to their dismay.

A growing body of research shows that long periods of physical inactivity raise your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high cholesterol, and obesity, among others.  You can also develop neck and back pain due to atrophy or underdevelopment of the core abdominal and gluteal muscles, not to mention the possibility of curvature of the spine and painful protruding discs.

Unfortunately, taking regular exercise doesn’t seem to be enough – not if it means you’re still sat down for hours on end without a break.  The only way to combat it is to sit for short sessions only and build as many brief periods of exercise as possible into your day.


Get up and go

The basic rule is ‘stand up more, sit down less, and move around as much as you can’.   It may sound simple, but that really is the key, regardless of whether you're a long distance driver, student, tied to a desk job, or just at home watching television or surfing the net.

The more variety, the better: don't stand for too long, don't sit for too long, and do as many different types of activity as you can in a day.


Build it in

Walk whenever you can.  Go over to chat to your colleagues instead of sending an email; get off the bus a stop earlier or park further from work; take the stairs instead of the lift; go for a walk at lunchtime; and take a short stroll around the office at least once an hour.  Walk around while you're chatting on your mobile, and stand up to have a good stretch every 50 minutes or so as well. 

If you are a busy mum, walk your children to and from school if possible, set up a buggy group with other mums, and get involved with as much exercise as you can with your youngsters: take them swimming, to the park, on country walks, play ball games with them or simply play in the garden or on the beach.

At home throw yourself into the housework, gardening, and cleaning – you may feel like you haven’t the energy now, but you’ll soon find yourself feeling fitter than you did before.

Multitask while watching TV: tidy the room, do simple exercises, use a treadmill or static bicycle, and invent excuses to get up and down as many times as possible.

You can even incorporate exercise into other activities which are normally sedentary: play pool or darts at the bar instead of just hogging the stool; walk around the shops instead of shopping online; and chat to your friends on the move instead of sitting round a table.

Every bit of movement helps: the more you do, the better you will feel. 

And now ask yourself: Were you sat down while you were reading this?  Is it time for a stretch and a stroll?  Use your get up and go to get up and moving!  


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Hours and hours are spent sitting at desks 
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