Get Up Off Your Seat!

This post was written by Wiley H Jul 04, 2019 in Fitness, General, Health & Wellness

Tips for sitting less and moving more.

According to Statistics Canada, only 7% of children and 15% of adults are meeting the current guidelines for physical activity (60 minutes per day for kids and 150 minutes per week for adults). This means the majority of us are way too sedentary, which leads to poor cardiovascular condition, obesity and many types of cancer. Here are a few tips for sitting less and moving more.

Is sitting the new smoking?
Canadian adults spend 69% of their waking hours sitting – that’s almost 10 hours a day! This has been attributed to long commutes and the rise in technology use. We’re spending increasingly more time on screens (smartphones, computers, tablets and TVs – texting, watching videos, gaming, social media) and less time being physically active. 
When we sit, we use less energy than when we stand or move. Studies have linked prolonged sitting with these major health problems: 
  • Increased blood pressure;
  • High blood sugar;
  • Excess body fat around the waist;
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels; and
  • Serious illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.
An extremely alarming fact is that exercising before or after work is inadequate to counteract the harmful effects of sitting all day. No matter how fit and active we might be, sitting all day is harmful to our health. Our muscles switch into “dormant” mode that compromises their ability to break down fats and sugars, and our metabolic rate drops. 
An analysis of 13 studies of sitting time and activity levels found that those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking. 
Wake-up call
This is a wake-up call for all of us to sit less and move more. Movement – even leisurely movement – burns calories, maintains muscle tone, and improves cognition and mood.
If you are an employer or manager, consider introducing more standing and movement into the workplace. Studies consistently show that a more active workforce translates into a healthier, happier and more efficient workforce (fewer sick days and higher productivity). ParticipACTION, a national non-profit organization, helps deskbound workplaces integrate fun, rewarding and healthy behaviour programming into the workday, through their UPnGO program.
Let’s get up and move!
Most of us are aware that being more physically active is good for us, but change is hard. Because we already lead busy lives, it is easier to change our behaviours if we can fit them into our existing schedules. So, here are a few suggestions for incorporating more movement into our daily lives.
At work:
  • Get up from sitting every 30 minutes.
  • Try a standing desk (the best type allows you to alternate standing and sitting).
  • Use a “balance ball chair” which requires your body to balance through micromovements.
  • Use a small water glass and refill it regularly throughout the day.
  • Take short stretch breaks and rest your eyes or look out a window:
    • Try the “Egyptian Stretch”. Stand up and extend one arm up and reach for the ceiling while the other arm reaches for the floor. Lift your toes and stretch your entire body while breathing in deeply. Exhale to release and change sides.
    • Practice deep breathing – inhale for 4 seconds and exhale for 4 seconds (this is a great stress reliever).
    • With knees slightly bent, bend at the waist and dangle your hands to the floor (this helps to release your back)
  • Try bouncing! Stand and vibrate your entire body for 1-2 minutes and breathe deeply (this is very energizing).
  • Suggest a walking meeting rather than sitting in a conference room (use your smartphone to record notes).
  • Walk to your co-worker’s workstation to ask questions instead of calling or emailing. 
  • Go for a walk at lunchtime or run some errands.
  • Walk or bike to and/or from work, if possible. 
  • Be a trendsetter, ignore any teasing, and lead your co-workers to quit extended sitting!
At home:
  • If you work from home, give yourself regular breaks and clean something (e.g. make your bed, dust, take out the recycling) – this keeps you moving and your chores get done regularly!
  • Get up from sitting every 30 minutes.
  • Stand while watching TV, talking on the phone, or texting.
  • Set up a standing desk in your den (the best type allows you to alternate standing and sitting), or move your laptop to a high counter.
  • Go for a brisk walk around the block after dinner.
  • Replace some screen time with social time – invite friends over for coffee.
  • At your kids’ games, stand and walk around, rather than sit on the sidelines.
  • Join an exercise class while your kids are at a scheduled activity.
If you’re looking for an exercise class or fun activity to tuck into your busy schedule, check out NVRC's current Leisure Guide or drop by your nearest Community Recreation Centre (CRC) and chat with the front staff to get you started. Don’t forget your CRC's open early and close late (see locations and hours). 
Canadian Cancer Society: Move More Sit Less
Mayo Clinic: Sitting Facts

Wiley H.

Wiley is a long-time North Vancouver resident. She works as a technical writer and is the current newsletter editor for the North Shore Writers’ Association. She spends her free time feeding her twin passions of creative writing and hiking. She recently discovered a potential third passion - the pottery studio at the Delbrook Community Recreation Centre.






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