When I was in graduate school getting my doctoral degree in physical therapy, I was routinely amazed and frustrated by how sore my low back was. The culprit? Try the 6+ hours a day I spent studying and writing–all done while sitting in a chair in the library, student union, or my apartment. These days, I’m fortunate that I have a type of job that doesn’t require me to sit at a desk all day, but not all of us are in the same boat. Even if we spend 5 to 6 hours a week or more in the gym, our bodies can still be negatively affected by too much chair time. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to get moving more throughout the day and minimize the health risks inherent to excessive sitting.
Now, take a little walk, then come back and keep reading!
Yes, Sitting Can Actually Harm Your Health: Here’s How
Research suggests that too much time sitting contributes to a wide range of health problems, including metabolic syndrome, obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure (not to mention low back pain, muscle imbalances, and poor posture). Why? Doctors know sedentary behaviors can impair blood circulation, metabolic processes, and body fat utilization, among other things.
Yes, you read that right: too much sitting can make you overweight, sick, stressed out, and in pain–and it may even increase your risk of premature death. Now, I learned the hard way that what health and fitness experts are saying is true: sitting really is the new smoking. Don’t put your body in harm’s way–keep reading for some simple ways to get up out of that chair!
3 Simple Life Hacks To Get You Out Of Your Chair & Get Moving
1) Drink Water–and Lots of It.
Drinking water is a good habit for your health in and of itself. Hydrated bodies recover better from injuries and exercise, have healthier skin, and function better overall. The other sneaky bonus of drinking lots of H2O? You’ll have to get up a lot to go to the bathroom! I recommend keeping a water bottle with you, because if you’re relying on trips to the water cooler, then you may find yourself skipping more often than not. To make sure you’re not over or underhydrated, check your urine: it should be slightly straw-colored. And for a ballpark prescription, try this: at least half your body weight in fluid ounces every day, or more if you live somewhere hot, work out a lot, or have an active job.
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2) Take Scheduled Rest and Stretch Breaks.
We’re all creatures of habit, and we tend to do well with automating our new behaviors. To remind yourself to get up more often, set an alarm on your phone or watch that goes off once every hour. It’s your cue to stand up, take a little walk, or do a few simple stretches to give your body a break from all the chair time. You may even find that these breaks also act as a cognitive break that can reset and revamp your mental focus, too.
3) Consider Investing in a Stand-Up Option Desk.
Stand-up desks have exploded in popularity recently. A quick Google search can help you find many options to choose from, ranging in style, size, functionality, and price. If you’re an employee, don’t be afraid to bring up the issue to your boss–he or she may be impressed with the idea that standing more during your work day may increase your productivity and reduce the risk of sick-time-sucking injuries.
Have any other clever ways to get moving more often throughout your day? Let us know about it in the comments below!