Being a couch potato isn’t an ideal way to spend the day (which is probably why we curl up on the sofa in the evening-curling isn’t really sitting, is it?) and we all know that exercise is really good for us, mentally and physically. Did you know though that prolonged sitting is actually really, really bad for you?
A study of more than 200,000 Australians showed that the more people sat, the higher the risk of death. This study took into account age, gender, weight, general health status and exercise which would all affect the death risk.
The interesting finding was that although exercise did reduce the risk of prolonged sitting, it doesn’t completely cancel it out. What does this mean? It means that a person sitting 11 hours a day and works out 3 times a week is probably not any better off than a person who does minimal exercise but is on their feet most of the day. Surprising, huh?
Exercise is important, and the more you can incorporate it into your lifestyle the better. However these findings suggest that if you couldn’t make it to the gym this week then it’s not the end of the world but you can benefit your health in other easy ways:
1. Stand on public transport.
I can often be found standing in an almost empty train carriage. It’s just a habit of mine, but after reading about this research, there is even more reason to stay away from sitting on the commute.
2. Get up when you’re thinking.
Unfortunately most of us are tied to the desk in some way or another. But when you’re not physically using the computer, stand up. I read my newspapers standing up at the kitchen counter, because I have a really nice view of the duck pond from the kitchen window. Some people are investing in “standing desks”, or you could just get up when you have a brainstorming session or talking on the phone.
3. Walk, walk, walk.
The recent weather (“the wettest drought since records began”) doesn’t make it fun but if it’s practical, resist the urge to be dropped off door-to-door. I have a friend who gets into her car to drive down the road and around the corner to the local shop. She’s a dear girl, but don’t be like her.
The key point to remember is that while we should all strive for physical activity, we should also be focusing on just simply getting up and moving about.