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By Katie Heilman

Over the next 3 weeks, One on One will be talking all about topics that can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle during the stay-at-home order. Be sure to check out each Focus Point of the Week for manageable ways to improve your “health at home”!

Being confined to our homes makes it all the more likely that the majority of our day will be spent sitting. But sitting all day just won’t cut it when it comes to most of our ideas about living a healthy and happy life. This Focus Point of the Week takes a look at some of the health risks associated with prolonged sitting and provides manageable ways to get up and move throughout the day.

Sitting – the new smoking

Did you know that the average American spends more time sitting than sleeping? Sitting may seem harmless, however, prolonged sitting increases the risk of chronic diseases, primarily heart disease and Type II diabetes. Also, prolonged sitting slows metabolism by decreasing production of lipase, an enzyme that breaks down fat.

Get up and move

The good news? It doesn’t take breaking a sweat to counteract prolonged sitting. You just have to get up and move! Try these ideas to break the stillness of sitting:

  • Leave your desk and take your lunch break at your kitchen table.
  • Call a friend and walk around while talking on the phone.
  • Set a goal and stick to it- example: 20 body weight squats every hour on the hour!
  • Opt for standing during virtual meetings.
  • Schedule an AM/PM break to stretch, make coffee, or take a breath of fresh air.
  • Set an alarm on your phone/computer to remind you to stand every hour.
  • Start and end your workday with a walk—try some of our purposeful walking techniques!

Taking a ten-minute break from sitting every hour is ideal, but not always possible. Think about when and where you spend the most amount of time sitting, and then create a realistic strategy that will work for you.

Proper sitting posture

There is no getting around the fact that for most of us, a large part of the day is spent sitting. So, make sitting work for you! Sitting with good posture protects against back pain, and helps reinforce proper posture as you stand, walk, and even work out! Proper sitting posture is:

  • Spine tall and neutral with shoulders back (capital “I” posture).
  • Body weight distributed equally over both hips. No crossing of legs.
  • Knees slightly higher than hips and bent at right angle. Feet flat on floor.

If most of your day is spent in an office chair, look for a chair that offers lumbar support. If you don’t have one available, simply roll up a small towel and place it in the space between your back and the chair. Lumbar support helps to reinforce good posture.

Stretch wisely

Stretching is necessary to undo the postural effects of prolonged sitting. Primarily target the hip flexors which become shortened during prolonged sitting. Corrective exercises that move the spine through flexion and extension are also important for counteracting poor sitting posture.

A little less sitting and a little more moving can greatly impact your mood, your energy, and your long-term health. When you do need to sit, practice doing so with excellent posture. And by all means, when you do not need to be sitting—get up and move!