One of the unhealthiest things many of us do daily is sitting for extended periods of time. Excessive sitting has been linked to a host of maladies including:
- Heart disease: prolonged sitting is linked to elevated blood pressure and cholesterol
- Insulin resistance/diabetes: a study found a decline in insulin resistance after just one day of prolonged sitting
- Muscle degeneration: Self explanatory, use it or lose it
- Brain fog: Moving increases blood flow and when we sit excessively blood flow slows to the brain
- Neck back and shoulder strain due to sitting ergonomics.
- Excessive sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer and according to the Mayo Clinic this risk was separate from other risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure.
Many of us sit way too much on a regular basis and I’m not just talking couch potatoes here. Anyone whose work results in a lot of sitting is at risk. You might think, “but I work out regularly, wont that offset the risk”? Actually no, not significantly. Unless you do it in the right way at the right times.
The best way to offset the risk of excessive sitting is to sit less and in shorter time increments and to move more regularly throughout the day on a consistent basis.
There are many ways to get more movement into your day. Having a standing or walking desk is one way to do this. Another, and by far my favorite is to incorporate regular movement breaks (at least hourly) into my day. I take regular stretch breaks, walking breaks, dance breaks and other mindful movement breaks to break up time spent at the computer.
Not only do regular movement breaks help reduce the risks associated with excessive sitting, they have numerous other benefits as well.
Studies have shown that exercising in multiple shorter bursts versus only one longer session can actually be more beneficial.
One study showed improved blood pressure for 24 hors after a 30 minute walk. This improvement in blood pressure was also found after three 10 minute walks spaced out throughout the day. The shorter walks also showed reduced subsequent spikes in blood pressure which the single longer walk did not do.
Another benefit of shorter bursts of exercise done throughout the day is that you can easily fit in a significant amount of movement without having to commit to a significant amount of time at once. It’s much easier to commit to 5-10 minutes of exercise here and there and then actually do it, than to commit to 40 minutes at once. People are much more likely to find excuses to not do a 40 minute workout after they’ve finished their work day. Too busy, too tired, would rather be doing something else and the list goes on and on. Finding 5 or 10 minutes here or there is much more doable and remember, the best exercise is the one you actually do.
Another important benefit of sprinkling shorter workouts in throughout the day is increased productivity. If you recall I mentioned that brain fog is a side effect of excessive sititng due to reduced blood flow. When you move, you increase blood flow to the brain. This helps you be more alert, more creative and more productive. It improves problem solving, reduces stress and helps you think better. Increased productivity means more and better work done in less time which translates into more free time to spend doing what you love and can result in more money too. Now who doesn’t want that?
The moral of the story is exercising in short bursts throughout the day can help offset the negative effects of excessive sitting, saves you time and makes you more productive. I think I’m going to take a dance break now.
To find out how I can help you incorporate quick mindful movement and dance breaks into your day, please visit http://www.soullovedance.com
P.S. On June 20th, I’ll be interviewed for Global Party 2017 “Healing from the Inside Out”. To get access to this free online event, click here.