The Dangers of Sitting

Sitting-DiseaseDid you know that sitting too much is bad for you? Of course you do. But how much is too much and what happens when we let ourselves sit for about eight hours per day? Turns out, it’s a pretty serious health risk when we sit for too long.

Here are the top 10 reasons why we need to get up and get moving:

  1. Heart Disease. Muscles burn less fat and blood flows turns sluggish during a long sit. That means, fatty acids can clog your heart.
  2. Colon Cancer. Studies have linked sitting to a greater risk for colon, breast and endometrial cancers. The reason is unclear, but one theory is that excess insulin encourages cell growth.
  3. Mushy Abs. When you stand, move, or even sit up straight, abdominal muscles keep you upright.
  4. Tight Hips. Flexible hips help keep you balanced, but chronic sitters rarely extend the hip flexor muscles in front that they become short and tight, limiting range of motion and stride length.
  5. Limp Glutes. Sitting requires your glutes to do absolutely nothing and they get used to it.  Enough said.
  6. Foggy Brain. Moving muscles pump fresh blood and oxygen through the brain and trigger the release of all sorts of brain-and mood-enhancing chemicals. When we sit for a long time, everything slows, including brain function.
  7. Sore Shoulders and Back. The neck doesn’t slouch alone. Slumping forward overextends the shoulder and back muscles as well, particular the trapexius, which connects the neck and shoulders.
  8. Inflexible Spine. When we move around, soft disc between vertebrae expand and contract like sponges, soaking up fresh blood and nutrients. But when we sit for a long time, discs are squashed unevenly.
  9. Poor Circulation in Legs. Sitting for long periods of time slows blood and circulation, which causes fluid to pool in the legs. Problems range from swollen ankles and varicose veins to dangerous blood clots.
  10. Soft bones. Weight-bearing activities such as walking and running stimulate hip and lower-body bones to grow thicker, denser and stronger.

Click here for more information on how to get moving throughout the day.  http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/national/the-health-hazards-of-sitting/750/

Step it Up! Walk Your Way to 10K

Walk-graphicWhat is so magical about the number 10,000? Well, according to the American Heart Association (AHA) taking 10,000 steps per day can significantly decrease the risk of heart disease, the number one killer of men and women in America.

Most people nowadays do not reach 10,000 steps per day unless a real effort is put forth. With so many of us sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, we don’t move much during the day.

But fear not! There are so many simple steps you can take to up that step count.

  1. Get outdoors after dinner. Summer is already here, so take advantage of the long evenings. Taking your family on a walk for 30 minutes after dinner will do everyBODY some good.
  2. Make excuses to walk at work. Instead of sending inter-office emails, find a reason to walk to a co-workers desk and chat about what you are working. This seems a little silly but all of those steps add up.
  3. Park your car in the furthest spot. Practice this one every day, rain or shine. Whether it’s the grocery store, work, or you kids’ soccer game, you’ll be getting in those extra steps. And remember, you can either wait ten minutes in the Starbucks drive-thru or you can get another 200 steps in just by walking inside.
  4. Look for “extra credit” steps. For example, instead of sitting on the sidelines during your kids practice, use that time for some extra movement. Walk around the practice field, and encourage other parents to join you. I’m sure your child will not be embarrassed at all (yeah right!).

Here’s the point, come up with creative ways to get yourself moving. There are so many more benefits that come from exercise than losing weight. Adding more exercise to your daily routine is an exceptional way to improve your mental health as well. When your brain is stressed out, your body is stressed out. Common knowledge, I know, but that works both ways. When your body feels good, your brain feels good. Exercise and physical activity produce endorphins – the body’s natural pain killers, smile producers, and sleep aids. If you have ever had those days where the walls are falling in around you, take a walk.

All of these things together make for one happy, healthier you. We may have a need to look great on the outside, but looking great also means taking care of what is on the inside. So bust out your 10,000 steps! Which by the way ends up to be about 5 miles a day (don’t be scared, you can do it!)

 

Related Post: Step it Up! Hitting the Excuse Wall

Workplace Wellness: 5 Tips to Stay Healthy in an Office

Move reminderIt might sound crazy, but sedentary jobs might be one of the biggest contributors to poor health in the United States. Not only do these jobs limit our physical activity (check out this great infographic from medicalbillingandcoding.org), but they can also contribute to lots of unhealthy habits. When we’re sitting at a desk, the temptation to pass the day with unhealthy snacks is pretty hard to resist.

With that in mind, we asked our employee wellness specialist, Sally, for a few tips to beat the unhealthy office traps. Here’s her advice:

1) Find a fun, BPS-free water bottle that you can keep at your desk. You will be more inclined to drink water, and filling the bottle multiple times a day will increase your daily activity.

2) Make an eating plan. Prepare healthy to-go foods and lunches. Cut up enough carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, celery, broccoli, etc to be used in salads and as snacks for the whole week. Package individual containers of low-calorie salad dressing, humus or yogurt based dips to accompany salads and snacks.  Try to avoid any pre-packaged items and get your family involved in cutting and bagging healthy fresh snacks. If you need a meal plan, click on this image to download our daily meal planner.

Weekly Meal Plan

3) Find a walking route that you can use at lunch or a shorter one for your break. Even a 10 minute walk will help to re-energize your day, increase your focus, blow off steam, burn calories and boost metabolism.  Before you know it your mind and body will crave the fresh air and movement.

Walk-graphic

4) Set an alert on your daily calendar to move. this can be as little as standing in your space and stretching or maybe doing some office jacks…Start with a deep breath in, softening the knees and stretching the arms overhead then add some jacks by alternating heel taps as you bring your hands together over head, to modify eliminate the arms or lightly hold onto the back of your chair.  Or try marching in place with bicep curls or an overhead press and don’t forget a nice stretch for the hips and chest!

Move reminder

5) Encourage your colleagues. You can turn your co-workers into your healthy support system, and healthy living is contagious! Have fun and you will discover that finding new ways to live healthier at work can be easy and rewarding!

To check out more workplace wellness tips from Sally, check out her first post here: Turn Your Workday into “Healthy Time.”