Alert: Brand-New Research On Damage Caused By Prolonged Sitting, And 10 Tricks To Counteract It

I have to admit, I was guilty. And unfortunately, I know I’m not the only one. Due to all the research and typing, I would often find myself sitting down for long periods of time. Until I found out that it is unhealthy and that it actually hastens bone loss.

To solve this dilemma, over the years I’ve developed a variety of tricks and habits to help me get up and move more frequently throughout the day.

And now, brand-new research shows that exercise sessions alone are not enough to stave off the damages of prolonged sitting. The simple answer is to sit less!

So today, I’m thrilled to share with you the 10 tricks I use to spend less time sitting.

The Dangers Of Prolonged Sitting

Because sitting down is so passive, it’s easy to presume that you’re not doing any damage to your body. After all, when most of us think of “damaging” our bones and bodies, we envision some type of injury – falling and breaking a bone, stressing a joint, pulling a muscle, spraining an ankle, and so forth.

But sitting for prolonged periods causes silent damage that can be quite significant. Here are some sobering facts:

  • Sitting can actually shorten your life, according to an Australian study published in 2012.1
  • Health problems caused by prolonged sitting are just as (if not more) lethal than cigarette smoking, according to an Ohio State University study.2
  • Sitting is essentially the opposite of weight-bearing exercise, an absolutely crucial component of building and maintaining bone density.
  • People often practice poor posture while sitting down, which has many deleterious effects on bone health. Good posture applies positive stress on bones, as in weight-bearing exercise, whereas poor posture stresses bone in all the wrong places. This creates pain, skeletal misalignment, bone loss, and more.

Brand-New Review Reveals More Alarming Information

A just-published review reveals a disturbing trend among Americans: we spend an average of six to eight hours a day sitting down. The researchers also found that in the UK, people spend an average of 42 hours per week sitting down.3

The researchers for this review found even more alarming facts in their detailed analysis of a huge body of data. They looked closely at the available research on mortality, disease risk, and time spent either sitting down or exercising. Study after study showed the unmistakable link between prolonged sitting and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and death.

But the most startling new information they found is this: exercise sessions only help so much in staving off the harm caused by sitting.3

Why More Exercise Alone Is Not Enough

Just sitting for fewer hours every day was found to be more effective than longer, more intense exercise sessions between long sit-down periods. In other words, if you sit for six hours a day and work out for half an hour each day, you’re at greater risk for sitting-related health problems than someone who sits for just two hours a day and only works out for 15 minutes, three times a week.3

The bottom line is that sitting for long hours is bad for your health, regardless of how much you exercise during non-sitting hours.

The best way to change that is to decrease your time sitting down, and here are 10 ways for you to do exactly that.

10 Tricks For Sitting Less At Home And Work

When You’re At Home:

  1. My water trick is one of my favorites. I started practicing this habit several years ago, and I still do it. Because drinking water throughout the day is an important part of following the Save Our Bones Program, I always have a glass of water available. But to force myself to get up and move, I purposely keep it far away from my work station. Not only does this force me to get up and move, but it gives me a chance to do lunges and other moves while I’m on my way.
  2. Walk around the room while talking on the phone. Think how many steps you’ll take if you get into the habit of walking around every time you’re on the phone! (This would work great in most office settings, too.)
  3. Tackle those cleaning projects. As you’re working on your computer, watching TV, or some other form of sitting, stop and take frequent “tidy-up breaks.” This just means taking a few minutes to work on a cleaning project, such as sweeping the floor, doing the laundry, washing a few dishes, or cleaning a sink. And here’s an extra tip – don’t be afraid to dance around while doing it! You’ll get some more movement in.
  4. Move while brushing your teeth. Go up on the balls of your feet and then back down – these tip-toe exercises help work your calf muscles. You can also stand on one leg as you brush to help improve your balance so as to help you avoid dangerous falls that could break a bone.
  5. Do some yard work. Again, we’re not talking about a huge project that will take hours; just something short that you can start and stop easily, like trimming a shrub, sweeping the front porch and steps, or watering a few plants.

When You’re in the Office:

  1. Use your feet, not the phone. Rather than paging or calling a co-worker or supervisor, get up and go to his or her office area and speak face-to-face.
  2. Rig up a stand-up work station. There are so many ways to do this – don’t be afraid to get creative! Place a short stool or podium on your desk, for example, and put your laptop or keyboard on top; use a pile of books or boxes; put up two pairs of shelves on your wall – one on top for your monitor and one on the bottom for your keyboard (or just one shelf if you use a laptop). Shelf brackets and a simple piece of lumber to go across them make a quick and inexpensive stand-up work station. But bear in mind that even if you’re standing up, it’s important to walk around.
  3. Stop riding the elevator on your way to and from the office and take the stairs instead. Then take breaks throughout the day to walk up and down the stairs.
  4. Try meetings while on your feet. Instead of sitting down at a desk or conference table, invite your co-worker to go for a stroll as you talk.
  5. Do as many errands as you can walking instead of driving. If you can spare the time, walk to the post office, courthouse, or wherever you would normally drive to.

There’s something else you can add to your daily “sit less” routine: the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System.

Densercise™ is designed to be practiced in small increments – just 15 minutes a day, three days a week. You can do your 15 minutes of Densercise™ throughout the day, breaking it up into one or two moves at a time. You can choose moves from all of the days and weeks (not just the week you’re working on), or you could even choose one particular move to practice throughout the day.

The convenient PDF format allows you to do a quick word search so you can easily find appropriate exercises for your particular space.

That’s another thing that makes Densercise™ so compatible with your commitment to sit less – Densercise™ does not require a huge workout space, nor does it necessitate any special equipment. Many of the Densercises can be done right in your office or home, using your chair, floor, or wall.

For example, Chair Dips (page 17) can easily be done using your desk chair, and you can do Wall Squats (page 21) against any indoor wall. If you’re not sure about any of the moves, Densercise™ comes with an online video collection where I briefly demonstrate each move, so you can go ahead with the exercise as described and illustrated in the Densercise™ Manual. That way, there’s zero guesswork involved!

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Now that you’ve taken some time to read today’s post, go ahead and stand up and move. Your bones and body will certainly thank you.

Till next time,

References:

1van der Ploeg, H.P, et al. “Sitting time and all-cause mortality risk in 222 497 Australian adults.” Archives of Internal Medicine. 2012 March 26; 172(6):494-500. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2011.2174. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22450936

2Veerman, J. Lennert, et al. “Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis.” British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2012; 46:927-930 doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2011-085662. Web. http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/46/13/927.abstract

3Young, Deborah Rohm, PhD, FAHA, Chair, et al. “Sedentary Behavior and Cardiovascular Morbidity and Mortality.” Circulation.(2016): 134. Web. August 30, 2016. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2016/08/12/CIR.0000000000000440

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17 comments. Leave Yours Now →
  1. John September 9, 2016, 9:56 pm

    I wonder why my comment about being permanently in a wheelchair so what can I do, was removed & not answered?

  2. John September 8, 2016, 11:49 pm

    I know this but I’m in a wheelchair, can’t stand unaided so what can I do? I do exercises, using handrails, etc. for support but muscles are atrophying; like you say, exercise can’t compensate for sitting. I have osteoporisis; Ive been told I’ve got it through not weight bearing, as I eat very healthy & make sure I get all the vitamins, minerals, etc. (from food if I can),

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA September 10, 2016, 10:51 am

      You certainly can’t help being in a wheelchair, John. Thankfully, there are many exercises you can do while sitting, and many other things you can do to build your bones (you can find some examples at these links:
      https://saveourbones.com/osteoporosis-exercises-build-your-bones-while-you-sit/
      https://saveourbones.com/weekend-challenge-seated-core-and-oblique-strengthener/).

      Working with the diet recommendations and doing some of the other bone-smart actions in the Program can improve your bone health, and you’ll feel better too.

      Make sure you check with your doctor or physical therapist, though, before undertaking any exercises, including the ones for sitting. Everyone’s situation is different, and exercises that work for one person may not suit someone else.

      • John September 13, 2016, 8:54 pm

        Thanks Vivian.

  3. Rinah September 8, 2016, 12:36 am

    These are good tips. Here’s another one:
    When driving to do errands (bank, doctor’s office, etc.), park at a distance from your destination and walk to it.

  4. shula September 5, 2016, 5:53 pm

    THANKS

  5. annabelle September 4, 2016, 4:03 am

    Appreciate the reminder. It is so good that you keep us on track. Thank you Vivian

  6. Nicole September 3, 2016, 6:39 pm

    One great thing about NYC is that walking is faster than driving, therefore i did a lot of walking for 47 years. Now in Florida I have to remind myself to walk more, & I do…

  7. Elaine, chaplain & healing touch practitioner, St. Louis, MO, USA September 2, 2016, 9:14 pm

    I find your suggestions and information so helpful. I purchased the Densercise Program some years ago before, to my knowledge, you ever used the term Densercise™ Epidensity Training System in your work. Are the same or different exercises in the 2 or what is the difference? Many thanks, Elaine

  8. Mary September 2, 2016, 11:18 am

    Thanks for the tips. I knew I was sitting too much and I’ve been trying sit less so your tips are very timely and will encourage me to move more. I get up during the ads when I’m watching tv but sometimes forget. Now that you have brought it to my attention I’ll be more mindful. Thanks again.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA September 2, 2016, 1:43 pm

      It sounds like this information is just what you needed, Mary. Thanks for chiming in!

  9. carla riffel September 2, 2016, 10:32 am

    I often break up periods of sitting by rolling around on the floor. feels more relaxing than exercise and I am stretching and gently moving. hope that counts!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA September 2, 2016, 1:20 pm

      What a great idea, Carla! I know a chiropractor who has his patients get up and down off the floor to help their joints and muscles. You may be on to something!

  10. Ita September 2, 2016, 8:44 am

    Thank you, Ita.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA September 2, 2016, 1:32 pm

      You are welcome, Ita!

  11. Sandi September 2, 2016, 6:56 am

    Hi Vivian, is lying down even worse than sitting, or are they equally harmful?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA September 2, 2016, 1:20 pm

      Hi Sandi,

      The research points to a sedentary lifestyle being damaging, and sedentary means that you’re just not moving. So It seems reasonable to assume that lying down without moving for long periods is equally unhealthy. 🙂

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