If you are like me, you may spend many hours each day just sitting. As a hypnotherapist, I spend hours in session while sitting. In the time I am not with clients, I am sitting at my desk checking email or posting on this blog. I am not alone. New statistics report that Americans spend more than half their waking hours sitting. Besides working, watching TV and driving add more hours to our couch potato lifestyle.
Often when people hear the term "couch potato", they think of someone sitting in front of a television set. Australian researchers tracked 8,800 men and women whose average age was 53 for over six year. They reported that the risk for death due to cardiovascular disease increased by 18% for every hour of daily TV viewing. Those who watched TV four or more hours a day, had a risk of dying from cardiovascular disease that was 80% higher than those who reported watching less than two hours a day.
Even those who are physically fit with a normal body weight have increased health risks due to sitting. A Canadian study of around 17,000 adults found that sitting for long periods of time may cancel out some of the health benefits of a normal weight and regular exercise.
There are a number of health problems with extended periods of time sitting, There is increased heart risk because prolonged sitting periods can have negative effects on blood sugar and blood fat levels which could cause diabetes and heart disease. Prolonged sitting can also affect the central nervous system which will slow down and can lead to fatigue. Sitting often and for long periods of time causes poor fat burning. Lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that lines the walls of your capillaries, breaks down fats in the bloodstream. When we sit for a few hours, these enzymes, start shutting down and if you sit all day, their activity can drop by fifty percent.
So what can we do to counteract the sitting habit at work? Some people now stand at their desks or have added a treadmill for a "walking desk". Perhaps you are not ready to go that far, but some small changes in habits can be productive . Follow the "ten minute" rule and get up to stretch your legs for ten minutes every hour when you are on the computer. You can stretch, make a phone call or any other task that you can do standing up. Instead of emailing a co-worker, walk down the hall and have a real conversation. Avoid the elevator and take the stairs, park at the end of the parking lot instead of in front of the door Remember, we burn five calories an hour while sitting and 15 while standing. Change habits - when the phone rings, stand up for the conversation. And rather than eating lunch at your desk, take a mid-day walk. In other words, find ways to cut back on all the hours you sit at work.
The big traps to sitting at home are the television and the computer. You may just want to cut back on those long television or computer binges. Or if you are not ready to give up your shows, play a game with yourself, just stand up and walk around any time an ad comes on the TV. There are twenty minutes of ads in every hour of programming. That is plenty of time to get up and move. Or keep exercise equipment such as a treadmill, elliptical trainer or stationary bike where you can exercise instead of sitting. Instead of slouching on your favorite chair, use a stability ball which engages muscles in your abdomen and back.
Action-oriented video games like the Wii can be good for entertainment without sitting. If you've been on a computer all day, don't sit at it all night. And by putting your computer on a shelf or stand that is elevated you can stand while using your electronics. Better yet, take a stroll with your family around the neighborhood.
If you need help motivating yourself to quit sitting and start moving, hypnotherapy can be a valuable tool. Avoid those risks of sitting and BE WELL.