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  • Rachel Johns

Sitting is the new smoking

In today’s world, people are spending more time sitting down than ever before. On average, office workers are spending up to 15 hours per day in a seated position. They now say that ‘sitting’ is the new ‘smoking,’ and it’s literally killing us!

The potential negative health effects of excessive sitting include: 1. Prolonged sitting reduces blood flow to the brain, causing you to feel sluggish and tired. It is also linked to increased rates of depression and anxiety.

2. Sedentary behaviour is closely linked to many serious, chronic health conditions, including Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes. With reduced blood flow to the entire body, fatty acids are able to collect in arteries and cause high blood pressure and cholesterol. It also affects vital organs, such as the pancreas, which is unable to produce insulin properly.

3. Sitting is often ‘slouching,’ meaning our back, neck and core muscles are not engaged. Over a long time these muscles waste away and we lose strength and endurance, which can lead to pain and weakness. Some muscles also shorten with prolonged sitting, meaning we lose our flexibility.

4. Blood clots and varicose veins are more common in people who spend hours sitting down, due to blood and fluid pooling in the legs.

5. Sitting doesn’t burn much energy, which leads to weight gain and poor sleep patterns. Sedentary behaviour has been closely linked to obesity.

6. If you don’t use it, you lose it! Everyday tasks (such as hanging out the washing or taking a bath) become so much harder if you don’t regularly move your body. Our bodies are designed to stand! When we stand up, all our vital organs, including our gut and cardiovascular system work far more effectively. Physical activity also boosts our energy levels, improves sleep patterns and maintains strong bones and muscles to help us move with ease. Regular exercise is essential and incredibly beneficial, however we now know that one hour of intense vigorous exercise doesn’t completely offset the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. We have to include other ways to break up long periods of sitting. Here are our top tips for getting out of your chair:

7. Stand up from your chair every 30 – 60 minutes and do a few stretches or take a short walk. If you find it hard to remember, try setting an alarm on your phone every hour to remind you to get up.

8. Ask for a stand-up desk at work – the positive benefits are so worthwhile!

9. Take your ironing board into the lounge room so you can stand up and iron your work or school uniforms while you watch TV.

10. Wash your car by hand instead of driving through the car wash.

11. Walk or cycle to work (or even part of the way).

12. Meet a friend for a walk instead of sitting down in a café for coffee.

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