Did you know that something you do every day can lead to atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque in arteries and narrowing of blood vessels) and calcified arteries? Cleveland Clinic rates these two conditions as risk factors for heart disease. As for the mystery culprit? Sitting! Sitting and being sedentary for extended amounts of time can have negative effects on your health. In honor of American Heart Health Month, I want to show you some ways you can reduce the number of hours in a day you spend sitting! After all, “Sitting is the new smoking”.
Using a standing desk is an easy way to spend more time standing while doing work. Studies by James Levine of the Mayo Clinic have shown that sitting for extended amounts of time can actually decrease the body’s effectiveness of regulating glucose levels in the bloodstream. Unregulated levels of glucose in the body can increase the chance of type 2 diabetes. A standing desk gets you up, and once you are up you are more likely to get moving (and burn more calories!). Many places offer standing desks, like Ikea and Varidesk (this company also offers standing mats). For added cardio, you can place a small elliptical-style stepper under your desk (like this one) or just march in place!
To learn more about standing desks check out this review on Reviews.com.
Cardio Commercial Breaks
In one study, adults who reported more than four hours in front of the TV or other screen-based entertainment had a “125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack” (As reported by The Mayo Clinic). If you just have to catch up on your favorite show, try to get moving while watching. Positioning the treadmill or exercise bike towards the TV can provide good cardio exercise. “Cardio Commercial Breaks” can also get you out of your chair during your favorite TV show. Once the commercials start, you start moving! You can choose to jog in place, do jumping jacks, or even create a workout system based on the type of commercial playing (for example: Whenever a car commercial plays, do crunches until the commercial ends, food commercials, do jumping jacks, etc.).
Get Out There and Move!
The best way to avoid being sedentary is to get moving! Try taking the longest walking route to your destination, taking the stairs, or even going out for a walk instead of watching TV. Wearing a pedometer or an activity tracker (such as a Fitbit) can serve as inspiration to make sure you are getting enough steps each day. You can set up friendly competitions with family and friends to reach the highest number of steps in a week. Not only will this competition boost your number of steps, but also your heart health!
There are so many ways to get up and avoid sitting, so take these suggestions, but find whatever works for you. Your heart will thank you for any way you incorporate movement into normally sedentary tasks!
Jessica Kouvo is an exercise and food enthusiast!