Over the past few years many of us have switched walking to the train station each morning, to walking to our desk downstairs. We get out of bed much later than we used to and even with our best plans the weights set we brought in summer 2020 is still sitting there unused. We know we should move around more, everyone tells us, but there just isn’t enough time in the day. Do we really know the risks to our new sedentary lifestyle?
What are the risks from a sedentary lifestyle?
In recent years there has been a lot of research completed around sedentary lifestyles and studies show that it has increased dramatically. Although science is still finding answers, at the moment many studies show that sedentary lifestyles are causing as many deaths as smoking!
Those who sit for 8-10 hours a day are at higher risk of; Diabetes, Weight Gain, Mental Health Issues, Back Pain and even Cancer. The good news is there are some very simple ways to change our sedentary lifestyle into a more active one… and they don’t include getting a gym membership!
Simple changes that will make your life easier and healthier
So now we know why we need to change our lifestyle, but how do we do it? We’re busy, we don’t have the time and we are too tired at the end of the day, so how can we go from sedentary to more active without changing our whole life?
Purchase a Standing Desk
On an average work day we can easily spend 8+ hours sitting at our desks. We’ve heard all about posture and getting a better chair, but actually there is something much better we can be doing.
Purchasing a standing desk or a desk riser will keep you on your feet and in a better position for the rest of the day – no more sitting in that C shape! Standing desks are great for boosting blood circulation, burning calories and tacking low blood pressure, standing up encourages you to move around more and fidget. There are even Yo-Yo Boards and Yo-Yo mats that you can stand on to encourage even more movement.
Think about those times you’ve been sitting at your desk and decided to do all the printing in one go so you don’t need to keep getting up. With a standing desk you’re already on your feet and in a positive mindset to keep moving.
There is also evidence that certain tasks – like clearing out your emails – are done much faster when standing, so you’ll be better at your work too.
Trading Steps for ‘Step Credits’
We’ve all heard that we need to do 10,000 steps a day, but what they don’t tell you is that other activities count towards those 10,000 steps. Swimming, Cycling, Cleaning and other activities that don’t build up steps can be converted into steps with a basic calculation.
For each minute that you are active, give yourself 100 step credits (A step credit is just a step). Done 20 minutes of cycling to the shop this morning? That’s 2,000 steps you can add to your daily count. While this calculation isn’t perfect, it’s a great way to challenge yourself to get your steps up to 10,000 each day and will help you become more activite overall.
Make yourself a week chart
So many of us underestimate the amount of time we spend sitting down in a week. It’s easy to think ‘well, yesterday I walked to the shops and I cleaned the house after work’, but in reality that trip to the shops took 30 minutes and cleaning the house was a 15 minute once over for the kitchen. What you’ve told yourself is that you spent plenty of time on your feet yesterday but you actually spent 45 minutes on your feet and 9 hours at your desk because you didn’t even walk away from it at lunch.
This is where the chart comes in. Plot out your average week. Would you get up and walk at lunch or would you stay at your desk? Do you sit in front of the TV in the evening? From here you can see just how much time you are sitting down and where there are potential spots to make a difference.
Instead of spending 45 minutes in the morning sitting with a cup of tea, could you do 20 and then have 25 for a quick walk? These small differences can add up to a big change in your lifestyle.
Don’t binge show episodes
You’ve worked all week and you just want to sit in front of the TV? I know I can get right into an episode and the next minute I look at my phone and 3 hours have passed! Set yourself a timer on your phone or agree to watch just 1/2 episodes of your favourite show each night. Not only will this mean that you have more things to look forward to on other days, but as you won’t be sitting in front of the TV you’re more likely to get up and move around more, getting in those last important steps for the day.
These are 4 simple changes that can make a huge difference to your overall health, will you be implementing any?
*This is a collaborative post, all opinions are my own*