Sitting is the New Smoking – A slogan that is going to start mainstreaming more and more. Research has proven this to be true, even in those people who are avid exercisers. It turns out that the total time sitting has a greater impact than our hour of physical activity.

People who sit for longer than eight hours a day are at a higher risk for metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes and dementia than those who move frequently throughout the day. When we sit for long periods of time, the processes of breaking down fats and sugars is halted, creating larger pools of toxic buildup in our system, and higher accumulation of fats in our midsection and in the arteries.

So what do you do when your job requires long hours at the desk, on the phone, or in front of the computer? The good news is studies have also shown that getting up and moving frequently throughout the day has positive benefits. The goal is to move and move frequently.

In your everyday life, here are some daily practices to pick up the movement: park farther away from stores, take the stairs whenever possible, and setan alarm to move or stretch for 5 minutes every hour. Try standing instead of sitting when the opportunity presents itself. When watching TV, utilize the commercial breaks to stretch and move instead of fast forwarding through the comercials.

There are many options available for more movement at work, too. Here are some tips offered by many of the experts:

• Use an exercise ball — without a stand to force use of your abdominal muscles; keeping them tight and strong and preventing the slouch strain on your back from the result of sitting in a chair.

• Alternate between sitting and standing at your workstation: Take all calls standing up, stretch every 10 minutes focusing on the hip flexors and hamstrings, walk every hour.

• Instead of sitting at a conference room table, go for a conference walk around the office. Huddle for five minutes at the end to jot down any necessary notes and tasks.

• Change the ergonomics of your work station from a sitting station to a standing station. Some companies even offer a specialized treadmill ready work station that will allow you to be in motion all day.

What are the benefits of adding this movement to your day? Overall better glucose utilization by the body, an increase in muscle use and tone which aids in burning more calories throughout the day leading to weight loss and more energy. When we move, we the muscle movements help with moving the blood to throughout the body and reaching into all the small capillaries in all organs of the body – this results in better oxygenation as well as fat burning.

I hope you were standing up while reading this article.

Tracy Beeman, MS, RD, LD is a corporate wellness consultant for Seton Medical Center Harker Heights.

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