A sedentary lifestyle leads to all sorts of health problems—we know! Break up your chair time with simple actions to get up more at work
You keep hearing about how a sedantary lifestyle—and especially lots of sitting at work—could be ruining your health and fueling obesity. The problem is, if you've got a desk job, making time to be on your feet requires some creativity. Plus, not many experts have been willing to offer specifics when it comes to getting off your butt—until now, that is!
To break up your sedentary lifestyle, you should be on your feet for at least two hours every workday, advises a special health panel commissioned by Public Health England (PHE)—an arm of the U.K.'s Department of Health. That panel says four hours is even better. Their recommendations appear in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
So how exactly are you supposed to do that? First of all, try to log your two hours through lots of little standing or walking bouts—not one or two long stretches. Your goal is to break up those long periods of chair time, says David Dunstan, Ph.D., a member of the PHE panel and head of physical activity at Australia's Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute.
Dunstan says standing up every 20 to 30 minutes should be your goal. He and his colleagues at Baker offer the following tips to change your sedentary lifestyle at the office.
- Stand up during phone calls.
- Move your trash and recycling cans away from your desk so you have to stand to throw something out.
- Stand up to greet or speak with anyone who visits your desk.
- If you have to chat with a coworker, walk to her desk instead of calling, emailing, or messaging.
- Make frequent trips for water. By keeping a small glass on your desk instead of a big water bottle, you'll be reminded to go refill it every time you finish it off.
- Skip the elevator and take the stairs.
- Stand at the back of the room during presentations instead of sitting at the conference table.
- Get a height-adjustable desk so you can work on your feet from time to time.
- Try to walk or bike for at least a portion of your commute to work. If you ride the bus or train, stand instead of sitting. (Check out our story 5 Standing Desks—Tested.)
When it comes to breaking up your sitting behaviors, even laughing, fidgeting, or gesturing could be beneficial, finds a study from Montefiore Medical Center-Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. (We can certainly get behind that science!) The bottom line: A body in motion tends to stay slim, healthy, and—well—in motion, all the research indicates. So however and whenever you can, try to move yours more.