Sitting: Get fit where you sit
Are you sitting down right now? In 2016 more than half of Australians over 16 were considered physically inactive (Health Stats NSW). Screens are taking over our lives, and we’re spending more time sitting than ever. In fact, research from the Heart Foundation estimates that we could spend up to 15 hours a day sitting!
Notice how you are sitting. Chances are you’re in “slumpasana” – slouched in a desk-chair or on a couch. Even though you find it comfortable right now, our sedentary lifestyles are causing us some pretty major health problems.
Understanding the health risks
A Columbia University study of 8,000 adults aged 45 years or over found that sitting for long periods increased the risk of early death – regardless of age, gender, race, weight or exercise. On the plus side, people who sit for less than 30 minutes at a time actually tend to live longer.
Why? Because sitting is a major factor contributing to cancer, strokes, diabetes and heart disease. But that’s not all…
Since humans are designed for movement, your body doesn’t function as efficiently when you’re sitting still – you start slumping and immediately your breath shortens and your muscles weaken. It can also lead to problems with hips and joints, with the majority of back pain caused by poor posture.
Sitting is also associated with higher anxiety and depression, possibly because it means missing out on the positive health benefits of exercise.
Five ways to get moving
- Schedule regular breaks. If you’re sitting at your desk all day, set a timer to remind you to stretch or move for 1-5 minutes every half-hour. Try this simple routine.
- Change your habits. A few small steps (literally!) can boost fitness, like choosing the stairs over the lift or getting off the bus early to walk home.
- Practice sitting UP not DOWN. You can improve posture, breathing, and switch on your muscles in your chair! Here’s how to do it.
- Try a different chair. You’re less likely to slump into a chair without armrests and more likely to remember to sit up, not down.
- Make sitting time count. Watch your favourite shows, you don’t have to miss out – but while relaxing in front of the telly, use the time to GET FIT WHERE YOU SIT!