So much has been said in recent times about the importance of engaging in regular physical activity:
from improving cardiovascular function, bone health and helping to ward off chronic illnesses, to helping relieve psychological distress and social isolation.
Not to mention it may help us live longer. Thirty minutes per day of moderate intensity physical activity, with some vigorous exercise is all we need, right? Well, not exactly. There is another piece to this puzzle. Sedentary behaviour, or excessive sitting, is something we spend more than half of our waking hours engaged in. And for many of us, this could be substantially higher. Sedentary behaviour is associated with an increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality, higher morbidity and poorer health outcomes, including higher rates of CVD and type 2 diabetes, and depression. The particularly bad news is that even adults who meet PA recommendations of 30 minutes per day are still at risk of poorer health if they spend large amounts of time engaged in sedentary behaviours.
However, it is certainly not all doom and gloom. The Australian government has recently updated its physical activity guidelines and has now published the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour guidelines. It is a great resource about how we can get ourselves and the people we work with, moving more and sitting less. The good news is that minimising our sitting time, and breaking up prolonged sitting is actually really easy and should be attainable for virtually all of us. Here are just a few tips on how we can incorporate more standing into our everyday lives:
- If sitting to watch TV, stand up during the ad breaks or at a specified time. Stretch, walk to another room, get a glass of water, anything to break up the sitting time.
- Stand while talking on the phone or using a tablet.
- Perform as many household chores, like folding washing, whilst standing.
- If working on the computer for long periods of time, stand for a couple of minutes every half hour. Set an alarm on your computer to remind you. If possible, look into getting a standing desk or make your own by creatively raising the height of your monitor and keyboard, or laptop.
- At work, whenever possible, walk to deliver a message to a colleague rather than emailing or telephoning. Collect printing throughout the day, rather than letting it pile up to collect once.
- Conduct standing or walking meetings.
- Whenever possible, stand whilst travelling on public transport.
A great mantra is to think of activity as an opportunity, not an inconvenience. Always look for the opportunity to be more physically active and sit less. It will make you feel better in the long run!