When we're kids, we run around a lot. It comes naturally as part of our play time. Kids are always on the move, and keeping fit is just a normal part of life. But as adults, keeping fit isn't so easy. Most of us sit all day. We spend nearly 8 to 9 hours a day, 5 days a week, sitting at our desks, plus the hours we spend sitting in cars or trains on our daily commute to work or watching TV on the couch at night. This kind of lifestyle makes it all too easy to gain weight and equally difficult to lose weight. It can also be very harmful to your health.
As soon as you sit down, the electrical activity in your muscles slows down, and your calorie-burning rate drops to one calorie per minute. Over time, your body increases fatty molecules and LDL cholesterol, your muscles start to atrophy, oxygen consumption drops, and your blood sugar levels go up. All of this increases your likelihood of both weight gain and other health risks such as heart disease and type-2 diabetes.
Okay, we think you get the picture: Sitting all day is bad for you. Now, you just want to know what you can do to counteract the negative effects. The good news is, there is a simple, three-step formula for reducing the unhealthy effects of sitting:
1. Sit Up Straight. Believe it or not, simply sitting up straight burns more calories than slouching. Be conscious of this when working at your desk, watching TV and eating dinner.
2. Stand at least once an hour. This couldn't be simpler. Just stand up and stretch your muscles. If you're watching TV, use commercial breaks as an opportunity to touch your toes or march in place.
3. Get about 30 minutes of activity per day. You don't have to pump iron at the gym or join a spin class. Anything that gets you moving will do the trick. And you can split up the 30 minutes into smaller chunks ― for example, 10 minutes walking your dog, 10 minutes vacuuming your house and another 10 minutes clearing the table and washing dishes after dinner.