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How bad is sitting down for you?

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Sounds like a bit of an odd question right? But if you have a job that requires you to sit down for long periods of time then you could be doing more harm to you body than you realise.

Office workers can be sat down for anywhere between 8-10 hours a day. Medical research has suggested that sitting down for this period of time can lead to increased chances of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, depression as well as muscle and joint problems.

Some medical experts have claimed the office chair is worst for your health than smoking and kills more people a year than HIV! So why can sitting down do some much damage? The most obvious reason is the very low amount of calories you burn by just sitting down. The average person will only burn between 70-80 kcal an hour sitting down. Thats roughly half an apple. If you eat and snack at your desk, and lets be honest for most people this is high calorie foods such as sweets, chocolates and crisps, then you are creating a massive calorie surplus. The extra calories have to go somewhere and that is inevitably stored as fat. The more fat you store the more likely you are to suffer from fat related diseases. Its not rocket science.

But its not only the weight gaining that is bad. Poor posture in your chair can lead to chronic neck and back pain, a sure way to put you in a bad mood and effect your concentration. Sitting down for long periods actually reduces the enzymes that break down fat by up to 90%. This means that any of your energy expenditure is taken from the stores in your blood or muscles and never your fat stores. Another serious blow for the employee is a loss of brain function. Because of a lack of circulation due to a lack of movement, the flow of blood rich oxygen is restricted. Less oxygen equals a less productive worker.

What can you do?

Below are a few simple tips for helping you survive the office chair;

  1. Create an employee exercise class before or after work. Help motivate your staff and keep them healthy.
  2. Stand up. If possible try and stand up for at least 2 hours a day. This alone can triple the amount of calories you burn.
  3. Use the stairs and avoid the lifts regardless of how many flights you have to walk up or down. This is a great cardio exercise.
  4. Eat healthy. So obvious but if you cut out the naughty foods then your body will thank you in big way.
  5. Get some sun light. Being stuck under artificial light all day is not good for our mood. In your lunch break go for a walk outside and soak up some vitamin D.
  6. Perform some chair aerobics. If you absolutely have to be stuck at your desk perform some desk based exercises for 5 minutes every hour to get the body fired up again.

So if you are one of the millions of people who are stuck at a desk for most of your day, make sure it isn’t  killing you !

By Barry Wood, Seven Hills Fitness

Health and wellbeing, accessible to all

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