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August 10th, 2017

If Sitting Is the New Smoking, Here’s How to Break the Habit

By In the Loop

Research has shown that too much sitting is associated with a host of health problems, including obesity and metabolic syndrome. It also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Fortunately, there are (ahem) steps you can take to combat those negative effects.

Research has shown that too much sitting is associated with a host of health problems. Fortunately, there are (ahem) steps you can take to combat those negative effects.


If you've spent any time as a desk jockey, you don't need us to tell you that extended periods in your chair can leave you feeling less than chipper. And as a host of research has also pointed out, too much sitting also ups your risk for developing serious health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome. It can even increase your chance of dying from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Fortunately, some folks, including our friends at Lifehacker, aren't about to take that news sitting down (so to speak). In What to Do Throughout the Day to Keep Sitting From "Killing" You, the hackers of life offer advice for combatting the mental (and metabolic) snooze caused by too much time in your chair. The secret, they say, is to move it, move it a little bit at a time. They even recommend a magic ratio, based on the Pomodoro Technique: for every 25 minutes of sitting, get up and move for five. Researchers have found this combination lowers "blood glucose and insulin levels in office workers" and, when combined with a daily 30-minute walk, "also reduces blood lipid levels."

Mayo's Jill Henderzahs-Mason backs the fruity formula. "At the bare minimum, you should get up and change positions for at least a minute or two," every 30 minutes, she tells Lifehacker. Henderzahs-Mason, a physical therapist at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, also provides a few exercises to do with your chair when you're not using it for sitting. She suggests doing "lunges, squats, heel and toe raises, and standing balances" as well as doing "press-ups out of your chair with your hands bracing on the arm rests." As Henderzahs-Mason tells the site, "it's just a matter of getting as creative as you can and getting out of your comfort zone as much as you can."

And bonus points if your comfort zone is somewhere down the hall — all the better to squeeze in a few extra steps. Henderzahs-Mason tells Lifehacker she recommends her clients find ways to walk more throughout their workdays. "Take a walking meeting," she tells the site. "If you have something to do, make more work out of it." Consider walking to a colleague's desk to chat rather than sending an email or choosing to use a restroom further from your home base at the office. And when given the choice between the elevator and stairs, you know what to do. (But as Lifehacker asks, "Are you doing it yet?")

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Tags: Health and Wellness, Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program

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