According to a study published in JAMA Network, involving over 480,000 participants, individuals who often sit at work are 16% more likely to die early from any cause. More specifically, individuals who regularly sit for long periods are 34% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease.
These percentages are compared to those of all ages, genders, education levels, smoking habits, drinking levels and body mass index who do not sit at work. In each category, those who do sit had a higher risk of early death, per the study.
How to decrease the early risk of death from prolonged sitting
While the researchers found some sobering results, they also found how to mitigate the increased risk.
Engaging in a physical activity for an extra 15-30 minutes per day helps individuals who sit at work reach the same low level of risk for those who do not sit at work, according to the study.
Physical activity that takes 30 minutes or less
Any physical activity is better than none. Therefore, depending on the day or your fitness level, you can choose an easy, moderate or intense activity.
Easy physical activities are low effort, simple and generally require the same amount of oxygen as resting, according to South Dakota Sate University.
- Walk around the block.
- Do pushups, squats, lunges or sit-ups for 10 minutes. Complete the set two or three times at various points in the day.
- Try beginner yoga.
Moderate-intensity physical activities require more oxygen consumption than easier activities, per SDSU.
- Go on a jog or run.
- Ride a bike.
- Swim laps.
- Do some light weight-training.
Intense physical activities require a lot of oxygen, often making it harder to talk at the same time as exercise, per SDSU.
- Complete an HIIT workout.
- Go on a fast-paced run.
- Do some heavy weight training.
How to sit less at work
Costs and office set-up can make it difficult to use trending treadmills or bike desks. Luckily, there are other options to shorten your time in a chair while still completing assignments for the day. Here are 10 different ways to sit less at work, according to Fast Company.
- Get a step tracker: While expensive, many individuals already own Apple, Samsung or other step-counting watches. Set goals to complete a certain number of steps or to get up when the watch says you haven’t moved.
- Set an alarm: We can be sitting for a long time without realizing it. Setting an alarm at least once every hour can remind you to get up or stretch.
- Drink water: The more water you drink, the more hydrated you’ll be and the more you’ll need to go to the bathroom. Walk to fill up your water or go to the bathroom to get time away from your chair.
- Eat somewhere else: Instead of eating at your desk, walk to a new location in the office or outside. Whether it is to a restaurant or a picnic bench, it’s good to have a new scenery and get in a few extra steps.
- Take a walking meeting: Try asking a colleague to take a walk with you, instead of just sitting in front of one another.
- Do a standing meeting: If walking isn’t an option, consider standing at a high table or another more informal meeting place.
- Pace: If you’re talking to someone over the phone, making a mental list or doing other activities that don’t require sitting, try pacing instead.
- Use a standing desk: Some offices have adjustable standing desks. If those are not available, try moving to a kitchen counter or other table with enough height to get you to stand while you work.
- Visit colleagues: Instead of calling or messaging your co-worker, walk over to their desk when you need to talk.
- Go to the office gym: Some companies have gyms in the building. While you may not have a ton of time, going over and using the treadmill or a few weights helps to get the body moving.
Incorporating simple habits into your daily routine can significantly impact your overall health and well-being. Even a few minutes of standing up and moving each day can contribute to a longer and healthier life.