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Are You Sitting Down? Get UP! Sitting Can Kill You!

(Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

When I was a kid growing up in Southern Illinois few people had TV’s. There were no cell phones, video games or 24/7 MTV. As kids, our only option was to go outside and play, work on the farm, ride bikes, play ball or just chase each other around the front yard. Today’s youth are not so lucky. Day by day, all of us are becoming more sedentary and that plays a big part in our current and future health issues.

Inactivity is not reserved for the young alone. Adults are spending time on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, as well as texting and endless computer work both at home and the office. Do the words “couch potato” accurately describe you? The problem, according to some recent health studies is that prolonged sitting can undo the benefits of any exercise program you may be following.

Activity increases our metabolism and helps our bodies maintain a healthy weight and blood flow that helps ward off disease and obesity. Sitting, on the other hand, has been shown to reduce metabolism and make daily exercise less effective.

Move — Move — Move

The good news is that you don’t have to do wind sprints back and forth across your office to counter the effects of sitting for long periods. Just shorten your sitting periods. Phones, computers, watches all have timers. Set one of these to go off every 30 minutes while you are working at the computer or watching TV. Get up and move around. Instead of emailing the next office get up and walk there with a verbal or printed message.

Phone It In

Think of a phone call as an excuse to exercise. When the phone rings, get up and answer it and pace back and forth as you talk. Most of us talk with our hands so talk with your hands and walk with your feet.

Most of us set up our work area where everything is in easy reach. Move some of those often needed items away from your desk so you have to get up to retrieve them. Add just 2,000 extra steps to your daily routine and you should see a dramatic difference to your weight and health.

Little things like parking just a few spaces further away from the office. Using the stairs two to three times more than using the elevator. Walking to lunch instead of driving. Or, if you bring your lunch, walking to a nearby park rather than eating at your desk or in a break room.

Reducing Health Risks

Sedentary people usually walk about 2 – 3,000 steps per day. Upping that to 6,000 steps per day can have a very positive effect on your health. If you can reach 10,000 steps per day you will probably never gain another pound. In fact, you should start to see extra pounds dropping off.

Two thousand steps may seem like a lot. Actually, it’s about a mile for the average person. Not talking about doing the 2,000 all in one unit. Add 2,000 steps to your total steps for the day. Adding a few extra steps here and there will pay off in the long run. Check your local sports store for a good quality pedometer. Over a short period of time you can measure how you can add extra, health building, steps to your daily movements without affecting your work or energy.

Exercise Regimen

If you are like me you hate to set a time to exercise each day. Most fitness experts recommend at least 30 minutes per day of some type of exercise to get your blood pumping. I find I can maintain an exercise schedule if I break it up into 3 – 10 minute segments rather than one 30-minute segment.

If I’m feeling good and go 15-20 minutes then that reduces my next exercise period. Or, if I’m still feeling good and want to go longer then I really feel good that I’ve accomplished a lot for that day.

Some Final Thoughts

The world would be a much healthier one if we all did daily exercise, ate better and got enough sleep. Unfortunately, life gets in the way of us doing all those things each day. So, starting now, why not change that.

Get up right now and walk around your workspace or down the hall. Try to find as many ways as you can to add more physical movement to your day. I think you’ll be very happy with the results in as little as 30 days. Let us know how it’s going for you.

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