Have you heard that “sitting is the new smoking”? Are you wondering what that means?
Sedentary behaviour – inactivity – is bad for our health, happiness and productivity.
Sitting is so bad for our health that it’s being compared to smoking, a known barrier to achieving optimal health, and an insidious culprit in a range of physical ailments and diseases.
A few months ago, I was invited to talk about why sitting is the new smoking plus 5 easy tips on how to combat time spent on your butt with CTV Morning Live host Keri Adams.
Watch the full segment on how to start an anti-sedentary revolution below!
Why is sitting so hazardous to our health?
Poor circulation is one big reason why sitting is so bad for our health.
I think it’s safe to say that the majority of us sit for a large part of our days, from sitting down to meals, to commuting to work, to sitting at a desk, to watching TV.
Poor circulation not only puts us at risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity, but decreases our mood, clouds our ability to focus, and zaps our energy.
Our bodies are designed to be active. Our ancestors had incredibly physically active lifestyles.
But so much of our modern life involves inactivity, sedentary behaviour. This is why it’s extremely important to start an anti-sedentary revolution!
Exercise is a very important part of the equation but even if you spend an hour at the gym, that still leaves another 23 hours in the day.
Weaving physical activity into the rest of your day is equally as important as exercise.
Research on inactivity – called sedentary physiology – shows the harmful effects of sedentary behaviour on all of our body processes, including cognition, circulation, digestion, metabolism, immunity and endocrine function.
Physical activity increases blood flow, and blood is the vehicle for oxygen/nutrient delivery and waste removal to every cell in our body, for all of our body processes.
Physical activity benefits health by improving the aforementioned body processes and, because the brain uses 20% of the oxygen/nutrients we consume (but is only 2% of our bodyweight), movement significantly benefits happiness and productivity.
So, what can you do? Here are 5 easy tips to start an anti-sedentary revolution:
1. Schedule your day into alternating sedentary and physically active chunks.
Aim not to sit for more than 90 minutes at a time.
- Talking on the phone? Pace.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Walk instead of drive
- Do a little housework here and there, instead of all at once
2. Reframe your mindset.
Change your attitude about errands and chores – see them as an opportunity to move, and therefore an opportunity to increase your health, happiness and productivity!
The new me no longer grumble (as much) about vacuuming or doing the dishes.
* Commit to consistent exercise by banishing the all-or-nothing mentality and scheduling mini workouts into your week! Just 5-20 minutes of exercise paired with a physically active day will be a huge boost to your health, happiness and productivity:
3. Cardio mini-workouts.
Boost your circulation and get your blood pumping!
- Go for a midday walk
- Ride your bike to work
- Play with your kids
- Walk your dog a little further
- Dance to your favourite song
4. Flexibility mini-workouts.
Stretch the front of the body to improve your posture and counteract the forward-flexion of sitting for hours a day.
Try these 3 stretches (you can use a rolled up towel if you don’t have a foam roller):
Add dynamic stretches to increase circulation and posture – check out the video above for examples.
5. Strength mini-workouts.
Strengthen the back of the body to improve your posture and counteract the forward-flexion of sitting for hours a day with multi-muscle exercises (to get the most bang for your buck).
Here a few ideas:
- Reverse flys
- Back extensions