Studies have found that sitting for more than half of your day can double your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems. In a November 2014 article in Scientific American, Dr. James Levine states that “lack of movement slows metabolism, reducing the amount of food that is converted to energy and thus promoting fat accumulation, obesity and a litany of ills – heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and more – that come with being overweight. Sitting is bad for lean people, too. For instance, sitting in your chair after a meal leads to high blood sugar spikes, whereas getting up after you eat can cut those spikes in half.” Studies have also shown that long hours of sitting can increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer, regardless of the amount of time spent exercising.
But never fear! There are numerous ways to easily add standing to your daily routines and ward off some of the sitting blues. One way is to stand while talking on the phone, answering emails or during the commercials of your favorite TV shows. You could use an activity tracker to alert you to times when you are too idle. Plan a “walk and talk” meeting instead of the traditional seated meeting. Look for ways to get up during the times you are usually sitting, even if only for a few minutes. Your body will thank you!
But what about the times when our jobs or tasks require sitting? Or what about the times we want to sit and read a book? Standing up and stretching a few times an hour is helpful, but there are options for how we sit that can make a difference too.
“Active sitting” is a way to involve your core muscles while you are seated. Your core is a complex set of muscles around your lower back and abdomen. They are responsible for stabilization and are involved in almost every movement of the human body. There are several ways you can sit “actively” and engage these core muscles.
- Put your feet flat on the floor
- Straighten your back and sit as tall as you can
- Puff out your chest and pull in your chin slightly
- Push your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades closer together
- Try not to lean on the back or arm rests of your chair
You should feel the muscles around your midsection working to support this position. That is your core. The more you practice active sitting, the stronger your core will become.
There are numerous benefits to regular active sitting. You will burn more calories. You’ll notice an improvement in your focus and alertness. Your engaged core muscles will encourage the natural curvature of the spine, increasing your strength and flexibility. You’ll experience an improvement in circulation, oxygen supply and general well-being.
This year Johnson County Public Library’s staff wellness committee has chosen the motto “Stand Up! For Your Health.” All library employees are encouraged to be more active throughout the day. I encourage you to do the same and make the move to stand more and sit less. You won’t regret it!
Please Note: All resources are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for the advice or treatment of a doctor or other licensed medical professional. Library staff and materials cannot be used to provide medical diagnoses or treatment advice.
Linda is the White River Branch Manager and leader of our staff wellness team. Staying healthy and keeping fit are keen interests of Linda. Her goal is to enable others to live a healthy lifestyle through good nutrition, physical fitness and a positive outlook, although (shhhhh) she does confess a weakness for potato chips and Cheetos! Join the conversation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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