Sit Less, Stand More for Better Mental Health
How active are you during the day? Do you know how many hours you spend siting down versus standing up? Would it surprise you to learn that on average people spend over seven hours a day sitting — whether at their desk, in their car, or on the couch, not to mention the eight hours spent sleeping?
Low-energy activities like working on the computer, playing video games, and watching TV all contribute to a sedentary lifestyle, which we all know is not healthy. Inactivity leads to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, among other health conditions. But new research shows that leading an inactive lifestyle may actually increase your anxiety regardless of how much time you spend at the gym. In the U.S. today, 40 million adults (18 percent of the population) have some form of anxiety (Medical Daily). As Americans are becoming even more sedentary, anxiety symptoms are also on the rise.
Our bodies were not made to sit down so much. We were designed to move. When we sit for extended periods of time, blood circulation begins to slow, which means we’re using less blood sugar and less fat is being burned. The results: Heart disease, diabetes, and also depression and anxiety.
So what can you do? Besides investing in a treadmill desk, here are some ideas to help you sit less and stand more.
- Use an app. Pedometers and fitness trackers can help motivate you to get up and be active. Start a competition with a friend or co-worker to see who can take the most steps in a day. The free Stand App not only alerts you to take regular standing breaks, but also suggests 30 low to medium intensity exercises. Even if you’re only up for just 1 minute, standing up and moving around several times during the day adds up. Check out this post for a list of more apps and activity trackers to help you stand more and sit less.
- Print across the room. Instead of rolling over to retrieve a printed document, send it to another printer farther away from your desk. Doing so will force you to stand up and walk over to get it.
- Stand up for every phone call. Make it a habit to stand up every time you receive a phone call, and stand for the duration of the conversation.
- Take a walk. Use your lunch time to go for a brisk stroll. Even better, ask a friend or co-worker to tag along. You’ll improve digestion and build relationships.
- Drink more water. Besides the benefit of hydration, drinking water requires standing up and going to the water cooler to get it. Fill your water bottle only half-way or use a small cup, so you’ll have to get up and refill more often. Added bonus: More water consumption also means more trips to the bathroom!
- Plan walk-and-talk meetings. Whether you’re meeting a friend or a business associate, instead of sitting down to talk, catch up or hold discussions while you walk. Not only will the activity boost your energy levels, but the change in scenery helps too.
- Do some exercises. Set a timer, and every half-hour or hour stop what you’re doing and do some lunges or squats, jog in place, or have a little dance party in your cubicle or living room. Instead of sitting down to play a video game, get active and have fun on a Wii.
You don’t have to get rid of your cushy chair, but you do need to be intentional about standing up more often throughout the day. Your physical and mental health depend on it.
Curious as to how much time you sit each day? Check out this Sitting-Time Calculator to find out and get on your way to standing more and sitting less!