Seven Ways to Stop Sitting so Much and Get Healthier!

  • By Dr. Anand Thakkar
  • 16 Mar, 2016
Sitting. It seems like one of the safest things you can do. It's certainly less dangerous than skydiving, mud wrestling, or bungee jumping. Where's the problem?

Unfortunately, several recent studies show that sitting too much poses major risks to our health. Frequent sitters make themselves vulnerable to obesity, heart disease, cancers, diabetes, and even a shorter life. And the more you sit, the more accustomed your metabolism becomes to operating at a slower pace. When sitting becomes your primary activity, you burn fewer calories at rest, have a harder time burning excess calories, and gain weight.

Are you ready to get up off the couch or take some time away from your desk chair? Here are seven easy ways to take control of your health by doing just that.

1. Move at least five minutes of every hour.

When you learn that sitting too much creates health risks, it's easy to assume that you can't do much to reduce your time spent in a chair. Many people work eight or more hours a day at a computer.

No matter your schedule or your excuse, an easy way to boost your activity level is to commit to being up for at least five minutes every hour. Set a timer on your phone or computer, and use that time for a bathroom break or a brief walk around the office.

2. Take the stairs.

Little choices can have a big impact if you make them consistently. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible helps you burn more calories. Sure, you probably stand whenever you're in an elevator, but you don’t get much exercise.

Get acquainted with the stairwells at your apartment or office. You'll probably find that you reach your desired floor just as quickly as the elevator riders.

3. Park at the back of the lot.

Some people consider it a big accomplishment to find the closest possible parking space. But unless you're at a theme park or a sports stadium, that close parking space probably saves you less than a minute.

Switch your mindset and start looking for parking spaces toward the back of the lot. You'll get in a few extra steps here and there, which can be a strong supplement to your efforts at the gym.

4. Talk face to face with neighbors and coworkers.

From texting to email, the conveniences of modern technology sure make it easier to communicate with others instantly. But, as the studies about sitting indicate, modern life has major health pitfalls. You can combat the unhealthy imbalance by choosing face-to-face conversations over instant messaging. If you need to borrow an ingredient from a neighbor, walk to their house and ask for it. Got a question for a coworker? Stroll over to their desk and work out the problem.

5. Walk and talk.

Do you have extended conversations with family and friends on the phone? Instead of lounging in a recliner during those chats, use that time to get up and move. Walking at a moderate speed, you should take about 100 steps every minute. At that pace, you'll be 10% done with your 10,000-steps-a-day goal after a ten-minute phone conversation.

If you aren't big on phone conversations, ask a friend to join you on a walk. You can fit in your socializing and exercising at the same time. And, having a walking partner will bump up your consistency.

6. Do laps during commercials.

Many people fall into a pattern of watching hours of TV during the day or after work. TV offers simple entertainment that stops us from realizing how much we're sitting.

You don't have to give up TV cold turkey, but you can become a more active viewer. Every time a commercial break interrupts your show, stand up and move. You can walk around, do jumping jacks, stretch, or perform any other activity. Just be active!

You can implement this tip even if you watch most of your TV on DVR or commercial-free video streaming services. Just take a short walk between every episode.

7. Stand whenever you can.

Are you at the mall waiting for a friend to try on a new outfit? Don't lounge in that comfy chair near the mirrors; wander around and shop for yourself in the meantime. This example shows you have more opportunities to stand than you realize. Take advantage of them and you may stave off some health problems and extend your life.

Just because you see a chair doesn't mean you have to sit. It's time to stand up and say goodbye to those extra pounds.

If you're ready to lose weight, you don't have to do it alone. Talk to a doctor who specializes in weight loss for personalized solutions and nutrition counseling. Let today be the first day of your longer, healthier, and happier life!
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