You do your 45 minutes on the elliptical five days a week or take a few group strength classes and pound the pavement in between. You’re meeting or exceeding the recommended amount of physical activity, according to the CDC. Good, right? Healthy, right?
Maybe not. The reason? You may not realize it, but you’re sitting still too much.
An eye-opening study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that sedentary behavior (i.e., sitting at your desk or on the couch) increases your chances of getting a disease that will kill you prematurely, even if you exercise.
Yes, despite your best intentions at the gym, sweating it out is not counteracting the long hours spent sitting still in a seat.
The senior author of the study, Dr. David Alter, said in an interview, “Another way of saying it is just because one does their 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day doesn’t ensure their health. These are two distinct factors, we need both, we need exercise and need to be sitting less.”
When we sit too much, our health is the first thing that goes. The people who were most sedentary in the 47 studies analyzed in this research were more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, breast, colon, ovarian, and other cancers, and cardiovascular disease than people who spent less time sitting.
Makes you want to ditch your desk chair ASAP, huh?
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Sitting Facts That Will Get You Out Of Your Seat
We sit an average of 9.5 hours a day. Many experts have called sitting “the new smoking.” (Yikes.)
Extremely sedentary people can be as much as 80 percent more likely to die of cancer than those who move more.
Only 28 percent of Americans are meeting the CDC-recommended amount of weekly exercise.
The normal office worker sits around a shocking 15 hours per day!
People who sit more than eight hours a day with no physical activity have a risk of dying similar to that posed by obesity and smoking.
Prolonged sitting significantly increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
If most of us started walking just 10 minutes a day, we could prevent more than 111,000 deaths every year!
4 Tips If You’re Sitting Still Too Much At Work
Since the majority of sitting is probably done at work, it should be the first place you look to reduce seat time.
Here are four options that can help reduce the negative health effects of that desk chair:
1. Buy a Standing Desk
Exercise doesn’t hurt my back – it’s sitting that hurts! I personally use a Ergotron WorkFit-A station in my home office. I like that it easily moves from a standing to a sitting position when I need to get off my feet.
I try to stand for several hours but often sit when working on a project that requires intense concentration. I like the option to do either.
2. Try a DIY Standing Desk
While a standing desk is an investment for your health, it can also be an investment for your wallet. If you’re not ready to fork over the dough, these DIY standing desks are a fraction of the cost.
The Standdesk 2200
This DIY standing desk from Colin Nederkoorn costs only $22 to make, and all the parts are from Ikea.
The TV Console Hack
Break out the drill and make this standing desk using a TV console and adjustable desk legs.
Get Creative With What You Have
Take a counter, a crate, a box, whatever you have, and turn it into a standing desk. While you may not have the most stylish desk in the office, your health will still thank you for standing.
Our assistant editor turned her kitchen counter into her workstation by using a Tupperware container!
3. Keep a Stability Ball Nearby
You don’t have to say sayonara to your desk chair permanently, but even keeping a stability ball in the corner of your office to use for half the day is better for your body!
By simply sitting on the ball, your balance is challenged, and you are forced to use your core muscles. Plus, with no armrests or a chair back to slouch into, you’re naturally going to keep your back straighter and taller and improve your posture.
4. Use a Swopper Chair
I received a new chair in the mail called the Swopper Air. It’s really more like a stool, and I admit to being cynical at first about its value. But to my surprise, I‘m in love with this stool!
This is a first-of-its-kind ergonomic chair that moves in all directions: backward, forward, sideways, and up and down. I would describe the movement as somewhere between a wobble and a bounce.
Since your entire body is slightly in motion at all times on the Swopper, your muscles remain active and well-supplied with blood.
Since the Swopper makes you straighten the upper part of your body, which frees the diaphragm, you breathe deeper, and circulation is stimulated. But since I have chronic low back pain, my favorite thing about the Swopper is that it can help strengthen your back and relieve back pain.
I feel less low back pain, I sit up straight, and I’m more attentive!
By moving around all the time, albeit in small movements, my back pain is less prevalent, and I’m more alert. At first, I felt a little sore in my mid-back which I think was my mid-back muscles responding to the new seat and strengthening. Now, I feel less low back pain, I sit up straight, and I’m more attentive!
Related: 7 Yoga Poses to Relieve Tight Hips
Yes, the price is much higher than a typical office chair, but if you have chronic back pain or need to get serious about moving more at work, the Swopper would be a wise investment for your health.
Now that you have the facts and the solutions, there’s just one final question: will you get off your seat and onto your feet?
READ THIS NEXT: 27 No Sweat Ideas to Get You Moving