As a population, we are inherently less mobile than before. Many of us have traded in the manual labor of our ancestors for more sedentary occupations of sitting at desks or driving. It is inevitable that this will have a detrimental effect on our health, so what can we do to combat it?
We all know exercise is good for us, but what are we supposed to do if our work keeps us sitting in one place for long periods of time? Here Andrea Easton, Finance and Operations Manager at Fleet Ex, takes a look at the issues that sitting too long can cause, as well as ways to work around this issue and ensure you can take care of your health, whatever whatever work you do.
The dangers of sitting still
You won’t find it on many death certificates, but physical inactivity is actually the fourth leading cause of death and disability in the UK. There is a whole range of conditions that can be caused or exaggerated by a lack of activity, including a 112% increased risk of diabetes, a 147% increased risk of cardiovascular death, and a 49% risk of all-cause mortality. . These are not the only conditions you might suffer from, as long term keepers also experience back, neck and leg pain, sleep apnea, premature aging, deep vein thrombosis, blood clots. , strokes and mental health problems.
The reason standing still is so bad for you is that you are adding a static charge to your musculoskeletal system, which prevents the efficient flow of blood throughout the body. If you are not sitting properly, you can also put extra pressure on other areas of your body, such as your back or legs, so it is important to think about your posture as well. It can also lead to fluid buildup and spikes in blood sugar levels that contribute to obesity.
How to fight inactivity
The obvious solution to fighting inactivity is to move more, so it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a few workouts each week will be enough. If you want to effectively combat the effects of sitting still, you need to make sure that you are trying to move around every 30 minutes or so. It doesn’t have to be a full workout, and what you do will vary depending on your situation, but it can prevent many of the health risks associated with being sedentary.
Ideally, we should spend 20 minutes a day being active, although few of us actually do. By breaking this down into regular chunks it makes it a lot easier to work out in a daily routine and feels a lot more achievable. One way to add activity to your day is to think about how you get to work.
The ride leaves us sitting in one place for a long time, so getting off the bus early or parking farther away can give you a few minutes of gentle walking that will benefit your muscles, heart, and mind before you even start working out.
Being active as a driver
When you are a heavy truck driver, it can be much more difficult to take a break every half hour. You’ll be on the road with deadlines to meet and traffic to beat, so stopping for a walk is unlikely. However, there are exercises you can do in your seat when parked or even sitting at traffic lights.
These exercises can involve muscle contractions that give you a form of resistance without having to move. They may seem small, but by placing stress on different muscle groups, you can ensure that you are training them, as well as your core.
These exercises may consist of squeezing yourself towards the steering wheel while holding it and pulling back again to activate your back, shoulders and arms. You can improve your posture by sitting as high as possible and then tucking your chin back or working your core by squeezing your abs to pull your belly button into your spine and hold it for 15 to 30 seconds.
Be active in the office
Being stuck behind a desk can have a huge impact on your activity level, and it can seem difficult to exercise your day without incurring the wrath of your boss. However, regular stretching is a great way to interrupt the day and stay healthy. These can be done in your seat, or you can start working out a few lunges, quad stretches, and arm rotations on your walk to the kitchen.
When you get a break, try to use it to the fullest. If you can, try to walk 10 minutes during your lunch or take the elevator instead of the stairs. Standing desks are increasingly popular and allow you to shift your weight. You can also add ankle weights to allow you to effectively lift the legs under your desk, or turn usually still discussions into walking meetings.
Stretching is crucial for any sedentary lifestyle. You can rotate your neck, pull your shoulder, bend your wrist, and pull your chest while sitting in your seat. When you have the freedom to move, you can think of compound exercises like planks, squats, and crunches as well as cardio activities like walking.
As a nation, it is estimated that we spend approximately 67 hours per week sitting. It’s been three whole days. When you start to think about it in this context, it becomes clear that we need to do something, even when our work environment doesn’t necessarily lend itself to being active. A few small changes to a daily routine can have a huge impact on your health and keep many serious illnesses at bay no matter what job you do.