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Sitting Comfortably?

21/05/2015 20:59 BST | Updated 21/05/2016 10:59 BST

SITTING COMFORTABLY?

Avoid the risks associated with spending too much time seated.

There's a growing library of research to confirm that sitting for long periods is associated with a significantly increased risk of adverse health conditions, including cardiovascular illness, diabetes and cancer. Even if you hit the recommended activity target of 2.5 hours per week, too much time on your backside can shorten your days - but just why is this?

Firstly, if you don't stand, electrical activity within your muscles effectively ceases and there will be a drop in the body's ability to draw fat out of the blood stream for use as fuel, as it isn't needed. This leads to a higher concentration of blood fats, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, sitting leads to a reduction in high-density lipoprotein, known as the 'good' cholesterol for its positive effect on the circulatory system.

The muscles required to operate a computer keyboard, phone, TV remote control or steering wheel are small and so use up less energy than the big muscles in your legs, buttocks and lower back. As a result, metabolism drops and calories are not being consumed but absorbed, something that will manifest itself in your expanding waistline.

Finally, blood circulation is dependent upon movement. Venous return, that brings blood back to the heart and lungs to be re-oxygenated and re-circulated, is assisted by the squeezing effect of your muscles on the veins when they contract. If your legs aren't moving your muscles aren't contracting and the risk of blood pooling in the lower limbs is increased, potentially leading to a number of health related issues such as deep vein thrombosis.

Basically, the human body simply isn't structured to be sitting for long duration and when you do that, it begins to fault. Here are my tips to build activity into your day to ensure you keep moving... for many years to come!

At work:

  • Instead of phoning or sending an email to a colleague, walk to his/her office and talk face to face
  • Regularly head for the water fountain
  • When you need a comfort break, walk to the furthest away toilet in the building
  • Stand whenever you are talking on the phone
  • Earn your coffee break by walking up and down the stairs a few times immediately beforehand
  • Schedule in your diary a five minutes activity period for both the morning and afternoon

  • If you're downloading big files, use the time to get out of your seat and do a few squats
  • Have a stretch whenever you're talking to colleagues
  • If you're photocopying, place your hands on the machine and perform a few incline press ups
  • If you sit at a desk, try a fitness ball to help strengthen your core and improve your balance
  • Can you hold mobile meetings, discussing work matters while you stroll
  • Even if you can't leave your desk, a few seated stretches will still bring benefits
  • Swap your traditional desk for an adjustable height so you can sometimes stand to work

At home:

  • Stand up during the commercial breaks on TV
  • Purchase a piece of home cardio equipment so you can cycle, walk or step while watching a DVD
  • Do triceps dips off the end of the couch while you're waiting for your favourite programme to begin
  • Stand on one leg and keep your balance while the theme tune plays at the start and end of a show
  • Put your book down, stand up and walk on the spot for two minutes after reading every five pages

  • Keep a resistance band in the kitchen drawer so you can pump rubber while the dinner's cooking
  • Instead of sitting on a chair to watch television try a fitness ball and gently bounce on it
  • Forget the automatic car wash and clean it the old fashioned way, by hand
  • Take the dog for more frequent walks
  • Find new ways to play with the children, frisbee, hopscotch, hide and seek
  • Make sure your weekends incorporate some gardening or DIY

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