If you are like most adults, you are probably reading this article while seated. If you are seated, how long have you been sitting?
Dr. James Levine, a professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and author of Move a Little, Lose a Lot, states that modern careers of office-bound desk jobs lead to overall more sedentary lives. According to a poll of nearly 6,300 people by the Institute of Medicine and Public Health, it is likely that you spend approximately 56 hours a week sitting down. For example, most adults sit in a car while commuting to an 8-hour daily desk job and then return home to lounge in front of a television or computer for the remainder of the day.
All of this downtime is so unhealthy that an entirely new area of medicine coined “inactive physiology” has been developed to investigate the effects of our increasingly technology-driven, chair-bound lives, as well as this new epidemic researchers have dubbed “sitting disease.” Levine states that most of us would lose weight if we did more walking, standing, and moving around during the day by increasing our NEAT, or “non-exercise activity thermogenesis,” which accounts for much of our movement and therefore caloric expenditure throughout the day. These activities include stretching, turning, and bending. He recommends aiming for 10 minutes of NEAT each hour.
Stand Up Against Sitting Disease in the Workplace
People working in the office find it hard to keep moving when working because they are always sitting down, but here are a few simple changes that you can make to boost your NEAT:
1. Use Microsoft Outlook to alert you to take a walk for 10 minutes of your lunch period.
2. Have a brainstorm walk or meeting with your co-workers.
3. Keep comfortable shoes near your desk so that you never have the excuse of uncomfortable shoes.
4. When making calls, try to walk around or at least stand while on the phone.
5. Keep a light jacket in your office for lunchtime strolls in the colder months.
6. Consider trading your chair for a large stability ball – it forces you to use your core muscles and encourages you to stand up more because you are not quite as comfortable as you would be in a chair.
7. Have a question for a co-worker in your office? Don’t send an email or call him; walk to his office and ask him face to face. Behavior research suggests that if you adopt a change for about three weeks, your brain adapts. So if you work more NEAT into your life for three weeks, it becomes a natural and healthier way of living that naturally flows through your day. NOW GET MOVING!