Who has a stand-up desk out there? Raise your hand! Who has a treadmill desk out there? Raise both hands! (umm…sorry about that…). The recent popularity of these types of desks has brought to the forefront the challenge many of us face in incorporating everyday movement in our daily lives. And there are countless studies showing not only the benefit of moving more during the day but the detrimental effects of being too sedentary. (Washington Post, Jan 26, 2015, “Too much sitting may have some serious health effects — even if you exercise”)
What many of these studies are finding that being overly sedentary is not the same as “lack of aerobic activity”, instead, there seems to be a set of biological factors that are affected directly by the actual sedentary behavior. So even for people that are able to fit in some regular weekly exercise sessions, if their remaining time is spent sitting down at a desk, watching tv, driving in a car, etc, there are still potentially harmful health effects.
As individuals, we need to move to change our mindset from one of “I need to move for 10 minutes every 30 minutes of sitting” to incorporating the idea that sitting is not an activity, but just a helpful respite from our usually active day. So find one or two areas where you spend a large amount of time in a sedentary position and make a commitment to changing it to an active environment.
I can personally vouch for stand-up desks and specifically the DIY kind as mine is just a sturdy tray table sitting on top of a basic desk. And the theory that a body in motion tends to stay in motion holds true…you’ll find yourself upping the energy level by walking while on the phone, making one-one-one meetings walking meetings, taking the stairs more vs. the elevator, etc.
And even small bursts of activity can add up. Do something during television time, even if it is just standing during commercials, or light stretching while sitting on the couch (please don’t ever lie down…!). If you are unable to change your daily commute right now to an active commute, then be sure to stand up on the train rather then sitting down. Tap your fingers or your foot during your car commute, squeeze a stress ball and switch hands as you go. All movement is good movement, so find what works for you, and get moving!