Lack of physical activity at work could be more harmful than you think. A new study shows that even if you exercise at the gym before heading off to the office, you’re still at higher risk for health problems if you do too much sitting during the day. According to this study, sitting too long in front of a computer screen does more than give you eye strain. It could give you a heart attack.
The Health Risks of Sitting Too Much
A study carried out in Canada that included 17,000 adults of all ages found that the more time they spent sitting, the more likely they were to die of heart disease and from all causes except cancer. You might think that jogging a couple of miles every morning would undo the effects of too much sitting, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. In this study, people who exercised regularly, but sat around at home or at work afterwards were still at higher risk of dying. Not good news for people who like to run in the morning and then chill out on the couch for the rest of the day.
Why is Too Much Sitting Unhealthy?
When the body is allowed to idle for long periods of time, it causes biochemical changes that allow fat to build up in the coronary arteries – a risk factor for heart disease. So important is the effect of too much sitting that some experts want to make it an independent risk factor for early death.
This study points out what most people already knew. People are spending too much time in their chairs and their health could be suffering from it. Some companies are addressing the problem by marketing treadmill desks which allow a person to walk at a slow pace while they work. Unfortunately, most people who work in an office don’t have access to a treadmill desk.
How to Stop Sitting Too Much
The key is to break up periods of sitting by getting up to walk around at least every hour – preferably every half hour. This keeps the body from going into idle from too much sitting. It also reduces fatigue and eye strain and increases productivity in the long run. Taking a brisk walk during lunch and going up and down the stairs during break also helps to reduce the effects of too much sitting.
Other options are to get an under desk pedal bike to use while working or bring dumbbells to work and do a set every half hour. It’s not hard to make changes once you’re aware of how much you’re sitting. Get up and take a break when you know you’ve been in one place too long. Do it for your health.