There is no doubt about the fact that physical activity is good for you. Despite convincing evidences that physical activity and exercise is beneficial for your health, physical inactivity is today the 4th leading risk factor for global mortality.
Health organizations around the world are making a concerted effort to encourage the general population to start exercising or to increase the time spent exercising, while less attention have been paid to what we do the rest of the day. Time spent sitting is found to be a dependent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, type2-diabetes and several types of cancer. As discussed in a previous blog post, a study from a British research group found that more than seven hours a day sitting increased the risk for developing cardiovascular disease by 147%, increased the risk for developing diabetes by 112%, and even the participants who exercised regularly had a 49% increased risk of dying prematurely.
In March this year the Norwegian Directorate of Health updated their recommendations for physical activity, and for the first time a recommendation for reducing the amount of time spent sitting was included. The recommendations encourage exercising with moderate intensity at least 150 minutes or exercising at least 75 minutes with high intensity each week. To obtain additional health benefits adults should increase moderate activity to 300 minutes a week, or at least half of the time should be of high intensity. The higher the dose is- the higher the gain is. Additionally it is recommended to perform strength training which increases the strength of large muscle groups at least twice a week. And finally: Reduce time spent sitting.
We spend much more time sitting than we are aware of. On average adults have been found to spend approximately 60% of their time awake sitting down. To reduce the negative health effects of sitting down, long periods of sitting should be intermitted by short sessions of light activity.
So what can we do to reduce the time spent sitting down?
- Leave your car at home, and walk if possible. If you have to use the car or take the bus, park at a parking lot further away form were you are going or get off the bus two or three stops earlier than you normally do.
- Choose the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
- Get up and move around. Whether it is at home or at work.
- Do not use the remote control; get up from the couch use the buttons on the TV.
- At work do not always use the nearest printer, choose one further away from your desk.
- Choose your coffee cup wisely, a small cup means that you have to get up and get coffee more often.
- Reduce the time in front of the TV, computer and smart phone.
- Walk around while talking in the phone.
- Meeting at work? Why not do the meeting while walking?
- Office job? Raise your desk and stand while working.
- Tired and unfocused at work? Take a walk or jump around in your office. Walk up and down the stairs, get out and walk around the block.
- Put simply: get up and start moving!:)
Ingeborg Megård Leinan, PhD Candiate at CERG