The average American spends 55% (7.7) hours of their wake time sitting. This is in addition to the 8 hours on average of sleep per night. Some even log up to 12 hours between their office job (7 hours) commute (2 hours) eating meals (1 hour) and watching TV (2 hours) before bed at night. This habit alone is one of the many causes for the obesity epidemic. A Spanish study in 2009, found those individuals who sat for four hours or more per day were 1.7 times per likely to be obese than their counterparts who sat for less than 4 hours. This was the case for even active individuals. Risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, several types of cancer and diabetes increases exponentially the more time spent sitting. This is now being coined the “sitting disease” by the scientific community when referring to the ill-effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
While Americans know about the importance of exercise, only 31% go to the gym, and 56% devote less than $10 per month to staying active. On the bright side, 96% said they would be willing to stand more to improve their health or life expectancy. Just last year, the American Medical Association adopted a policy recognizing potential risks of prolonged sitting and encouraging employers, employees and others to make available alternatives to sitting.
So what can you do to combat your risks?
- If you work in an office environment where you are confined to a desk work space, ask if your employer will set you up with a standing desk. Most employers will opt for a standing desk if you bring them a doctor’s note. Ergotron has a variety of standing desks to choose from.
- If your employer is unable to provide a standing option for your work station, set a reminder to get up once an hour for 10-15 minutes to walk around, stretch, grab more water, etc. As an example, instead of IM’ing a co-worker walk over to their office.
- At lunch, squeeze in a brief workout in your company’s gym or nearby, or go for a brisk walk.
- If commuting time is a nightmare, explore other time’s you may be able to go to work, or better yet go to the gym before or after work to avoid the traffic.
- When you get home at night, after dinner, instead of vegging out in front of the computer or TV, do some light stretching or yoga, or go for a late night stroll.
- On the weekends, opt to walk more places, and spend more time with the family doing physical activities outside.
Even though, these all seem like small actions, they can all help reduce your sitting time, and improve your health over the long-term. We can all take small actions to reverse the culture, and inevitably the health of our society by making a small effort to change how we treat our bodies. As the obesity epidemic continues to rise, we can create change, and reverse disease, even just by standing a few more hours a day.