Get moving!

Sitting is the “new smoking”

A couple of weeks ago as I was cycling along Dick Ward Drive I was pleased to see how many people were commuting on bicycles.  I remember my granddad cycled to and from work for most of his life.  In those days it was common for people to walk or cycle as their primary mode of transport.  In fact, a normal day 50 years ago incorporated much more incidental activity than these days.

The growing use of computers, television, appliances and service industries, has led to a sedentary population and an increase in the dis-ease associated with inactivity.

How did you spend your last 24 hours?  Was most of it spent sitting? Studies show that many adults spend more than 8 hours sitting each day and almost 50% of the population do no physical activity at all!

Sitting has been called the “new smoking’ because of the associated negative health effects, such as:

  • weight gain and poor circulation potentially increasing your risk of heart disease
  • back and neck pain – the seated position puts huge stress on your spine
  • increase risk of cancer – lung, colon and endometrial
  • increased risk of diabetes
  • varicose veins caused by blood pooling in the legs
  • Weak bones leading to osteoporosis – move it or lose it!

Even if you go to the gym and work out regularly, 7 hours spent sitting can undo all that good work. It’s not just less calories burnt, it’s the actual sitting.  Many offices have introduced standing desks, but what about the time you spend commuting, watching TV or on electronic devices?

Hours spent sitting alone with a screen-based activity, can disrupt sleep and often causes you to avoid socialising, withdraw from family and friends, potentially leading to social anxieties and depression.

Even just short bursts of activity throughout the day accumulates to provide numerous benefits and an increased level of activity going a long way towards avoiding the health risks above.

This “incidental exercise” or activity relies on your daily choices to and can be simple to integrate into your day.  You could:

  • Walk or cycle whenever possible or park further from the office, school or supermarket or get off the bus a stop earlier
  • Take the dog/kids for a walk
  • Play with your kids at the playground, walk around the oval while they’re at sport training, stand up and cheer encouragement at their games.
  • Move and stretch while you’re watching TV
  • Take the stairs rather than the lift or escalator
  • Go shopping – it requires a surprising amount of walking!
  • Do the housework – cleaning windows, vacuuming and mopping is great exercise
  • Mow the lawn, weed the garden, clear the palm fronds
  • At the office – stand up, march on the spot, move your arms and shoulders once an hour
  • Go for a walk on your lunch break
  • Choose to walk the long way whenever possible

The more you move, the more calories your body will burn and the more health benefits you will reap.


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