Galvin and Associates

Sitting is the New Smoking



Sitting more than 9 hours a day is a lethal activity. Have you ever added up how many hours you sit each day at work, in front of the computer, commuting, and watching television? The average American sits 9.3 hours a day and sleeps 7.7 hours per day. Over half of the population leads a sedentary lifestyle.

The World Health Organization has identified physical inactivity as the fourth largest killer in the world, just ahead of obesity. Yes, you read that right. Inactivity is a behavioral risk factor linked to high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and colon cancer. Here is an interesting infographic about the unhealthy effects of sitting.

The good news is that all we have to do to reverse the negative health impact is to move. Moderate exercise 15 minutes a day can lengthen your life by three years or more and reduce the risk of death by 14 percent or more. Simply avoid sitting for long periods of time. Here are a few ideas to help you kick-start some new habits.

1. Park your car farther away
Ever notice how some people park in remote spaces far from the store entrance? Usually they are avoiding parking lot scratches, but some of them are parking there for free exercise. You can easily pick a new normal parking space at work.

2. Walk during your lunch break
You don’t have to even go outside. Simply walk from one side of the office building to the other for a drink of water or to drop off a report. Walk with purpose and nobody will even ask what you are doing.

3. Hold stand-up and walking meetings
Stand-up meetings tend to finish more quickly. Plus, participants tend to have more difficulty texting each other undetected when standing in a small circle. If it is nice outside, you can invite another on a 30-minute walking meeting.

4. Use a wireless headset for phone calls
A wireless headset frees you from your desk allowing you to stand, pace nervously, or stretch during a call. This can be a lifesaver for conference calls and Skype meetings. Here is the headset I recommend.

5. Take a break every 90 minutes
Make it a habit to get up from your desk and walk out of your office. Get some coffee, go to the bathroom, or check email on your phone standing up. This alone is enough to lessen the bad health effects of prolonged sitting.

6. Walk together
Because these small actions are fighting against deeply ingrained habits, arrange for some positive peer pressure. Ask a friend to hold you accountable to move more. Find a friend who will walk with you. These are not easy changes to make. To quote Isaac Newton, “A body at rest tends to remain at rest.”

What simple, easy changes can you make to your work habits to help you to get off your butt?

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