Many people who are in office work end up sitting down all day as a matter of course. However, people who are in a lockdown situation and working from home as a result of the ongoing global health crisis are even more sedentary. The dangers of moving very little throughout the day are very real, as it's long been known a sedentary lifestyle raises the risk of obesity and heart disease.
A report by Harvard University (opens in new tab) looked at the evidence about the harms of uninterrupted sitting, examining studies of more than 2,600 people ages 60 and older. If you sit for seven hours a day, uninterrupted, you're 33% more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those who sit for three hours a day.
The report suggests we get up and move regularly in order to prevent long periods of sitting down. Even just a few minutes of activity is reported to lower our risks of early mortality and limit the risks of cardiovascular disease and obesity.
In another study, Harvard University examined 8,000 people for 10 years, finding those who did light activity for 30 minutes each day had a 17% lower risk of dying. However, the great thing about these findings is that 30 minutes could have been split up throughout the day into periods as brief as 30 seconds.
Yep, that's right. If you did 30 seconds of light exercise every half an hour, for six hours, you would lower your risk of early death by almost 20%. If you find yourself sitting down at a desk all day, it's a great way to kick-start your health and fitness journey.
Some easy exercises you can do include lunges, squats, push ups, mountain climbers and other forms of calisthenics. These exercise are home workout staples, and a 30 second set is a great way to begin improving your health if you're coming to fitness for the very first time.
It's not just for beginners, either: anyone who spends too much time sitting down could benefit from this practice. The longer your periods of sitting down, the longer your large muscles aren't using glucose, the main energy source in your body. If you're not using that glucose, it's likely to get stored as fat.
If you're moving about your house or apartment, try lunging instead of walking. While you wait for the coffee-maker to start or your kettle to boil, do squats. Incorporating "micro-workouts" into your day can be easy and fun. Give it a try!
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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