"Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save & preserve it" - Plato 427-347 BC
No surprise to learn excessive sitting makes us heavier, stagnant and sluggish. Yet thanks to the digital evolution of work and entertainment we are spending ever more time shackled to our chairs. Of course sitting down isn’t really the problem. It’s the length of time we spend sitting down which is causing the trouble. As the hours accumulate muscles shorten, circulation stalls and metabolism slows.
Importantly workouts are not the antidote. Even in the most active individuals intense exercise will account for a relatively small percentage of weekly hours. To counter the negative effects of sitting we need to be moving frequently. Easier said than done for those with sedentary jobs but there are inevitably steps which can be taken.
Phone Walks - Use phone calls as a trigger to get up and move. Many of us could accumulate lots of gentle exercise by simply walking around during our days conversations.
Chair Breaks - Set a timer to go off X minutes after sitting down. When it buzzes stand up and move. Example activities include heading outside for a few minutes of sunlight, walking around the office floor, performing a short circuit of stretches, doing some easy calisthenics, using a massage ball or dancing to a favorite track. Once your mini-burst of movement is complete, restart the timer! This is the strategy I try to employ when I’m computer-bound and like phone walks it’s surprising how quickly the activity accumulates.
TV Timeouts - When the commericals roll around or you reach the end of a gripping episode use the natural break in the program to peel yourself off the sofa, activate your muscles and stretch your limbs.
Standing Desk - Standing all day would present its own set of problems but having the option to alternate between the two is a great way to avoid being stuck in one posture for extended periods of time. For those who can a treadmill desk takes this idea a step further.
Ultimately there is no one-size-fits-all solution for escaping the chair. We all have our own routines, jobs, and commitments so the key is to personalise a series of movement habits which dovetail into our lifestyle. Regardless of how, breaking the tyranny of inactivity remains one of the most important battles we can win for a healthier, happier body.
Time to get up and move!