First the bad news. We—that’s you, I, and most people—sit on average 9.3 hours a day. That’s more than we sleep, about 7.7 hours a day. We have to sleep, but we don’t have to sit all those hours. And why not? Because sitting hurts us. Medical experts go even further. It’s killing us, they warn.
Statistics tie breast and colon cancer directly lack of physical activity. They blame sitting for about ten percent of those cancers. Six percent of heart disease cases can be pinned on sitting along with seven percent of type-2 diabetes. Maybe because uninterrupted sitting raises plasma insulin and glucose levels by more than 20 percent.
Now the good news. We’re onto it. Below are five things you can easily do to reduce the time you spend on your duff. Let’s start with a delightful, short video by Nilofer Merchant.
The following tips are illustrated quite vividly in an infographic from the Washington Post, The health hazards of sitting.
First take a sobering look at the brilliantly illustrated damage done by too much sitting. To make sure you don’t miss it, I snatched the graph showing the correlation between death and hours in front of the TV.
Now see how many of the following recommendations you can adopt.
Sit on it! These easy-to-find inflatable balls are soft and bouncy. Sitting at your desk on an exercise ball forces you to constantly adjust your body just to stay on it. That burns calories and strengthens your back.
Start with your hips and legs, then stretch the rest. Get into the habit. Use basic yoga poses like the cat and cow illustrated in the infographic. Do these and others several times a day. Stretching improves your flexibility, prevents strains, and keeps your muscles from getting weak.
Instead of watching the same inane ads over and over again or just staring at them with the sound muted, get up do something good for your body. Like a few sit-ups or touch your toes, run in place, but move!
At work, stand at least part of the day as you do whatever you do at your desk. Get your team to stand and walk around the conference table after 20 minutes or so of sitting. Don’t forget Nilover’s advice and conduct walking meetings. Walk your phone calls, if you’re no longer restrained by cords. And if you have to use a desk phone, get a long, stretchy cord and walk the talk.
If and when you do have to sit, do so properly. Feet on the floor, arms at about a 90-degree angle, back straight. See the infographic for more sitting instructions. And get into the proper sitting habit.
Don’t stop with these tips. Improvise ways of reducing your bum time and get into the habit of using the sitting alternatives you invent. Get your team to pitch in and make an office event out of your efforts.
If you’re not convinced that you need to give your tush a break, or if you need to convince your teams to spend less time seated, download and post The health hazards of sitting.