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Why Sitting is Bad for Your Health and Tips to Get Moving

Kris Gulbrandsen
ACMC-Willmar, Occupational Medicine

Did you know the average person sits more than six hours a day? Think about it. You get up to get ready, sit down for breakfast, dash to the car only to sit again. For those with desk jobs, you're likely hunched over a computer all day long. We are sitting our lives away, and studies have shown sitting too much can be bad for your health.

Research has shown that sitting for prolonged periods of time, particularly more than six hours a day, can lead to worse mental health, a higher risk of death from heart disease and other illnesses and a greater risk of being disabled.

Sitting can wreak havoc on your body from head to toe. Even those who get regular exercise are not immune to the side effects of sitting too much.

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Some forms of cancer
  • Obesity
  • Higher cholesterol levels
  • Over productive pancreas
  • Muscle degeneration, resulting in mushy abs, tight hips and limp glutes
  • Back problems
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Foggy brain

Before you throw out the office chair or the family couch, consider these ways to get moving and stretch your body.

  1. Park as far from the door as possible. Better yet, walk or bike to work.
  2. When you do have to sit, remember what mom always said, "Sit up straight." Correct your posture, relax your shoulders, keep your arms close to your sides and elbows bent at 90 degrees. Exercise ball chairs have become popular because they force you to sit up straight, while making your core muscles work harder.
  3. Every time you finish a task, take a stretch break. Try this ergonomic workout.
  4. Stand. If you can't stand at your work station, get up every half hour to hour and walk around. Walk that report to accounting instead of sending it via e-mail, take the long way to the break room or walk the stairs during your break. Stand during presentations and meetings, while performing chores around the house or even when watching television. The possibilities are endless.
  5. Get an exercise buddy. Find a work exercise buddy (or buddies) who is as committed as you are to get moving during the workday. If all else fails, set a reminder on your phone or computer to get up and walk around.

Do your body a big favor, and stand up for your health.