Nine to fivers beware! The time you spend sitting down could be doing you some damage…
Today, 28th April, is the “On Your Feet Britain Challenge” – a UK campaign to raise awareness of the harm we could be causing ourselves by living sedentary lifestyles. So, in true London Doctors Clinic fashion, our General Practitioners be running you through these medical conditions, as well as some realistic ways to convert sitting time to standing!
Sitting Vs Standing
We spend, on average, half of our lives sitting down, whether this is at our desks, on our daily commute too and from work, or when we’re relaxing in the evening.
There is often nothing nicer than sitting down with a nice cuppa at the end of a long day! But would you be so inclined to sit for long periods of time if you knew that a researcher has recently referred to sitting as “the new smoking” – very bad for your overall health, in other words.
One study classifies sitting for:
- Less than three hours of sitting per day as low risk
- Three to eight hours of sitting per day as moderate risk
- More than eight hours of sitting per day as high risk
But low, moderate and high risk for what?
Where do you lie on the sitting spectrum? Click on the link above to find out!
Health Risks Associated With Prolonged Sitting
Well, studies have shown that sitting for long periods every day increases our risk of dying from practically any disease we can think of! Even GPs are now advocating that they should be standing more at work, so it must be something worth considering. So, what are the harmful effects of sitting for long periods on our bodies? Read on to find out!
- Research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that sitting for extended periods damages the DNA. This study found changes to the part of the DNA that prevents damage during cell division, resulting in DNA changes associated with ageing and illness
- Sitting down is linked to inactivity, which puts you at higher risk for obesity. Becoming obese brings with it a host of health issues, such as increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and strokes
- Sitting down can raise your cholesterol. When we sit, we don’t contract our large skeletal muscles and this may impact on our body’s metabolism. The result is that levels of bad fat increase, whilst levels of good cholesterol decrease
Weak, Stiff Back Muscles
- Many of us who sit for long periods of time develop poor posture, due to slouching in our chairs. Some even use uncomfortable chairs not designed for long periods of sitting. When our lower backs are not well supported, we can easily develop stiffness and discomfort, and over time we can leave ourselves open to injuring our weakened backs more easily than before
Poor Mental Health
- Sitting down for a short period of relaxation can do your mental health a world of good. But when we swing to the other end of the spectrum and sit down most of the time, our mental health can actually begin to suffer. If you are sitting down, you are inactive, and most of us are aware that regular moderate activity improves our emotional wellness and our abilities to cope with stress
How To Swap Sitting For Standing
Now that we are beginning to realise that sitting too much is bad for our health, we might want to learn how to build more activity into our day, while still meeting all of our targets at work and home. It’s actually much easier than you might think. Try our tips to help you make a start!
- Get a standing, or height adjustable desk. You might not believe us, but this is becoming a trend in the United States! Instead of standing when you need a break from sitting, you sit when you need a break from standing!
- If throwing away your current desk seems like a step too far, then aim to stand up and take a walk around to stretch your legs and get that blood flowing every hour. Standing and walking for five minutes out of every hour you spend working can actually refresh you and make you a more productive employee, so everyone’s a winner!
- Go for a walk outside in the fresh air during your morning break or during lunch-time; why not arrange to meet a colleague who wants to get fit and commit to a 30 minute walk each lunch-time?
- Take the stairs! Now that most modern office buildings are equipped with elevators or escalators, it can be all too easy to avoid the endless flights of stairs that await us first thing in the morning and last thing at night. But taking the stairs can really increase your step count for the day, and we think you’ll find that it’s worth the effort as you begin to notice it becoming easier as the weeks go by
- Committing to a regular exercise routine in the evenings after work can do wonders for your physical and mental health. Joining a gym, or putting together a simple workout routine that can be done while you catch up with your favourite programme in the evening may motivate you to get moving. Or why not try jogging home from work in the evenings or getting off the bus a few stops earlier to walk the rest of the way?
Joining a gym, or putting together a simple workout routine can do wonders for your physical and mental health
So there you have it – five easy ways to get on your feet! If you think you’re at an increased risk of any of the above health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle and would like to discuss your concerns with a doctor – you know where to find us! With short-notice and same day doctor appointments available seven days a week across 9 central London clinics, there’s no need to wait in lengthy queues as in a tradition walk in clinic. It’s never been more convenient to see a GP!
By Melissa Dillon