Lack of physical exercise is a known risk factor for virtually every health issue you may face in your lifetime. And while most people keep track of how many days in a row they skip the gym, very few pay attention to how much time they spend parked on their tush. It’s time to take notice because recent studies show that the more time you spend sitting each day, the more likely you are to be obese, suffer from cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes, and even risk early death. Here’s my prescription for upending what’s now being called the sitting epidemic.
1. Think neat
A great way to undo inactivity and increase the number of calories you burn is to build up NEAT — non-exercise activity thermogenesis — a fancy phrase for the calorie-burning benefit of movement that’s not technically exercise. Think of everyday household chores, such as washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, cooking a meal (as opposed to ordering one), and shovelling snow the old-fashioned way (that’s right, no snow blowers allowed). You can also increase your NEAT by picking up a new hobby such as gardening (when it warms up again) or meeting a friend for an evening stroll after dinner.
2. Get off your butt and onto your back
Research shows people who get the right of amount of sleep at night tend to be more active during the day. One 16-year study of nearly 60,000 women, in the American Journal of Epidemiology, also found that those who slept an average of five hours or less a night had a 15-percent higher risk of being obese than those who slept more than seven hours. So this week, commit to going to bed an hour earlier each night and pay attention to changes in your energy levels. I bet you’ll notice the more you move during the day, the better you sleep at night.
3. Make over your office
Look for opportunities to shrink sitting time. My favourite simple tweaks include setting a reminder on your computer to fill your water bottle every hour, printing to a machine in another part of the building, and using the bathroom that’s not closest to your desk. I’m also a huge fan of things like standing up to take phone calls, scheduling “walk-and-talk” meetings or walking over to a colleague’s desk instead of calling or emailing.
Tune in to The Dr. Oz Show on CTV every day at 4 p.m. (EST) for more great advice.