Our lives in these modern times are much different than the lives of generations of people that lived before us – they were physically active most of the day, and nowadays we are inactive and we spend most of our day sitting at our desks and in front of the TV and computer. Our bodies are not made for sitting and it is taking a big toll on our health.
Sitting increases the risk of death up to shocking 40% as it completely deteriorates our health. Our spine takes the biggest hit as we sit in an uncomfortable position most of the day. Our shoulders and neck get sore, our brain gets foggy since there is not enough oxygen, we have poor circulation in our legs, our digestion is slowed down as well as our metabolism and our heart muscles don’t need to work hard so they get weak. Our muscles shrink since we don’t use them and our bones lose their strength. The list of issues sitting causes is long, so we need to find ways to fight the harmful effects. Here are a few suggestions what you can you do to fight the harmful effects of sitting for long periods?
Get up often
This one might seem obvious, but it is actually difficult to remember to get up every once in a while from your desk or couch when you are immersed in your work or your favourite show. It would be ideal to get up at least once an hour and walk around for ten minutes or so. At work, you can get coffee, walk over to the colleague you need to talk to, go outside, clean your desk etc. If at home, you can use the commercials to make yourself some tea or do small chores like folding the laundry or dusting your bookshelf. Create the habit of doing small chunks of work that involve movement and alternate them with periods of sitting.
Stretch and move
Regardless of your age, weight and shape, you should learn some stretching exercises. You need to keep your circulation working well and provide oxygen to your brain. There are simple yoga poses that don’t take more than 10 minutes and you can do them two or three times a day to stretch out. There are office yoga exercises you can do at work. You can do warming up exercises for a workout even if you are not going to work out. Going for brisk walks is a great way to get your body moving again – the recommended standard is at least three 45 minute walks a week. You can cycle, skate, swim, dance, take up a sport and jog as well.
Use healthy foods and supplements
In order to fight the negative effects of sitting, we should focus on our nutrition and eat in a way that nourishes our body. That means eliminating processed food, sugars, fatty and salty foods and replacing them with a healthy balanced diet. It also means increasing the intake of bone healthy foods for osteoporosis like dairy products, leafy greens and vegetables, sardines and other fish, berries, red peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, raisins and so on. You should also take enough Calcium, vitamin D, C and K, Potassium and Magnesium. If you don’t take enough from food, you should consider supplements.
The first step to change is to become aware and notice when we sit for too long and to break out of it as often as we can. Small changes in our habits and routines around exercise and eating can make a big difference and save us from health issues down the road.