A recent Harvard study suggested that sitting may have more of an influence on an early death than smoking. If your job requires sitting, make sure that you get up every twenty minutes, move for 20 seconds, and look 20 feet away. Set an alarm, get a cooking timer, or have your cell phone beep or vibrate every 20 minutes as a reminder. You can do so many different things every 20 minutes. For example, get a glass of water, go to the bathroom, send a fax, perform some backward shoulder rolls, do some push-ups, walk to the office down the hall, turn down the air conditioner, walk around your desk, take a 20-second movement break, do some jumping jacks, add paper to the copy machine, have a quick conversation with a coworker, open a window, wash your hands, perform air boxing, make a call outside, or take a stretch break before going back to sitting. Additionally, sitting will also lead to diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, which are the 3 most common comorbidities of Covid-19 and the biggest influencers of a bad outcome.
Sitting at work all day is bad for your brain and body, but remaining sedentary at home doubles the consequences. In addition to sitting at the computer every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., some people sit on the subway, in a bus, or in their car during their commute. After work, they sit down and eat dinner. Then they sit on the couch and watch TV. Next, they sit down and spend time on their computers or Ipads. Maybe they sit and read the newspaper or a good book. Finally, they might end the night by sitting and using their phones to browse social media, YouTube, or watch NetFlix. When the weekend comes, they sit at the bar drinking, sit in the movie theatre, sit at their children’s sporting event, sit at a party, sit during a dinner date, or sit at a play. Almost every activity people do involves sitting.
To keep your brain strong and healthy and to boost your brainpower, you must stay active. If you are in New York, take a walk along the High Line. Play tennis in Central Park. Go to the Bronx Zoo. Instead of taking the elevator or escalator, walk up the stairs. Instead of taking the subway, walk the twenty blocks. When you go to the supermarket, get more exercise by parking far away from the entrance rather than up close to the store. Start biking instead of driving. Walk your kids to school instead of driving them. When your children have a pool party, bring your bathing suit and swim. When your kids want to take their scooters out, try to run alongside them. Take a walk in the park or the woods. Go to a farm and play with the animals. Take laps around the pond. Hike the trail at a local park. Have fun! Go to Bounce U or Sky Zone and jump around. It’s great exercise, and you are moving your body.
Many people have started using standing desks at work. Look into it! Some companies might be amenable to helping pay for a Varidesk, which is a desk topper that can convert between sitting and standing heights. By standing at the office, you might even start a trend that will eventually benefit your work community, since everyone is standing and getting healthier and therefore using fewer sick days. If you choose to sit, you can get a cushion that fills with air so it is like you are sitting on an exercise ball and will be moving constantly rather than sitting in one position for an extended period of time.
Getting a dog would be great as well. They give you so much love, and you will have to take it out multiple times a day. The good news is you do not have to social distance from your pets or wear a mask outside when you take it for a walk.
There are so many activities to try. Of course, sitting is comfortable, but it will have lasting negative impacts on your health that will be very uncomfortable later. If you HAVE to sit, make it a priority to get up every twenty minutes. But an even better alternative is to choose to do activities where you do not have to sit. Adjust your workplace and lifestyle to create more movement in your life, which will help you function better, feel better, and live better.
Sitting at the computer will also lead to neck pain, back pain, and even headaches. Back pain is the number one reason people call out of work. The longer you sit, the more your muscles tighten up and get stiff. This may even lead to arthritis down the road and we want to prevent any future health problems. The body loves to move, and the more you sit, the greater your chances of developing back pain. You do not want to end up taking Tylenol that makes you feel drowsy and will result in you being less productive and having less energy. You also do not want to take Aspirin which has an effect on the thinning of your blood and may even cause bleeding problems you may not even realize. Remember: you use it or you lose it!