You might want to stand up for this: We’re on our butts more than ever during the day, and it’s hurting our health.
“We recently conducted a study showing that the life expectancy of U.S. adults could increase by two years if all adults reduced their sitting time to less than three hours a day,” says I-Min Lee, a researcher with Harvard University.
And it gets worse: In October, the New York Times published research from the journal Diabetologia, which looked at 18 studies involving nearly 800,000 people. The authors found that the average adult spent 50 to 70 percent of his or her time sitting, and that those who sat the most had “a 112 percent increase in their relative risk of developing diabetes, a 147 percent increase in their risk for cardiovascular disease and a 49 percent greater risk of dying prematurely — even if they regularly exercised.”
If you’re like many of us, you’re at your desk most of the day, only to come home and plop down in front of the TV after work. How to fix this? We asked some trainers for their most practical tips — because breaking the cycle doesn’t have to involve swapping your desk chair for an exercise ball!
Joey Gonzalez, chief operating officer and trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp, www.barrysbootcamp.com
If you have an office: “Find a spot against the wall and get into a wall sit. Legs should be bent 90 degrees. Try and increase the amount of time as your legs get stronger.”
Lunge, don’t lounge: Book the conference room when you have some reading to do, and make good use of it. “While reviewing documents, stand up and begin alternating lunges. Every minute or so, hold in the lower position for as long as possible. Then switch and repeat on the other side.”
Rob Sulavar, writer, trainer, sports nutritionist and founder of www.bandanatraining.com
Grab coffee outside the break room. “Office coffee sucks. Plus, the change of scenery might just inspire something genius.”
Make like a delivery man: “Delivery people are almost never overweight because they’re pedaling your food around all day. Take a page out of their book and go pick up lunch. Don’t think of your trip as an inefficiency, think of it as a mental jump-start.”
Laura Miranda, physical therapist and trainer, www.stronghealthywoman.com
Drink up. “Keep a bottle of water on your desk at all times. Drink enough so you have to go to the bathroom one or two times an hour. Choose to use the bathroom one floor up or down for even greater effect.”
Go all Pavlov. “Pair mundane office habits with quick, healthy activities to trigger movement all day long. For example, each time your phone rings stand up.”
Ring the alarm. “Set a reminder to go off on your computer or cell phone every 30 minutes to get out of your chair. Bend over and touch your toes or walk away from your desk for two minutes.”
Wear a pedometer. “It can serve as a cheap and easy feedback mechanism that will make you aware.”
Margo Donohue, boot camp instructor, www.brooklynfitchick.com
Get a standing desk: If it’s too impractical to use at work, set one up at home. “I haven’t looked back, and that was about two years ago,” she says.
Turn your meetings into walk-and-talks: “Just say, ‘Look, I’ve been sitting all day, do you mind if we do this standing up?’ Most people will say, ‘Let’s do that.’”
When you must sit
Get a mini workout!
- “Lift feet off the ground and contract lower abdominals. Try and increase the amount of time as your abs get stronger.” – Gonzalez
- “Place a Pilates ball between your knees and squeeze and pulse. Do 20 reps and rest then repeat. This great for the inner thigh and lower abdominals.” – Simone De La Rue, celebrity trainer, www.bodybysimonetv.com
- “Leave a golf ball under your desk and slip your shoes off during the day to roll out your feet.” – Sulavar
- “Straighten your legs on occasion to prevent tightening of the calves and hamstrings. Flexing each foot while sitting helps, too. Stretching in your chair will also keep your body from locking up. A little bit goes a long way.” – Dr. Florence Comite, www.comitemd.com