Sitting disease? Is it actually a thing? How do you know if you have it? Is this yet another thing we need to worry about in our quest ot be healthy? When I first heard it my reaction was… YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!
But… all jokes aside, there really is a growing trend of people becoming less healthy because of sedentary jobs… and this can led to a whole raft of health issues down the track.
So what is Sitting Disease?
Sitting disease is the name given to the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle. Specifically, these consequences lead to metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, cancer and more. Sitting disease is characterized by sitting or remaining inactive for most of the day with little or no exercise.
So are you at risk of suffering from sitting disease?
Let’s start by asking a few questions. Got an office job? Do you sit in front of a computer for a large part of your work day? Do you feel exhausted all the time, even though you haven’t physically exerted yourself?
While it might seem counter-intuitive that a sedentary day of sitting around in front of a screen can make you feel tired and exhausted, it’s true. A survey conducted by Virgin Pulse and Vielife showed that a full 76% of US workers feel tired most days during their work week.
Leveraging an online sleep program from vielife, the Virgin Pulse Institute conducted a sleep study in November 2013 with approximately 1,140 employees, all Virgin Pulse members, from three U.S.-based companies. Researchers found that:
- 76 percent of employees felt tired most days of the week
- 40 percent of employees doze off during the day once per month
- 30 percent of employees were unhappy or very unhappy with the quality or quantity of their sleep
- 15 percent doze off during the day at least once per week to once per day
According to Dr. Jennifer Turgiss, a co-author of the study and director of the Virgin Pulse Institute, “Showing up to work sleep deprived can be the equivalent of showing up to work intoxicated. Employees who don’t sleep well have poorer concentration, poorer decision making abilities, are significantly less able to cope with stressful situations, and are more likely to make unhealthy choices. The effects of poor sleep impair people’s focus and motivation, preventing them from reaching their full potential.
For the complete study visit: http://connect.virginpulse.com/asleep-on-the-job-report-from-virgin-pulse.pdf.
Studies have shown similar findings in most other modern-day societies and countries as well.
Let’s face it, computers pretty much run our planet, and our everyday life. Accordingly, you might be one of the millions around the world that works at a computer station all day long. If so, you may be suffering from a lack of energy like so many others that spend their day clicking away on their computer keyboards.
Fortunately, there are a few ways you can quickly and efficiently boost your energy when you work at a computer all day long.
Combat Sitting Disease – 9 Tips to boost your energy.
Get more exercise before and after work. This makes you stronger, leaner and healthier overall, leading to more energy at work and at play. Personally I find exercise in the morning best for keeping those energy levels up..and it’s done and dusted – once I manage to drag myself out of my nice warm bed at the crack of dawn.
Stretch throughout your workday. Every couple of hours, do some stretching exercises. This gives your body a wake-up call, and provides short energy bursts which can carry you effectively throughout your entire day.
Yes tht’s right. Less… not more. Cut back on the java. You should not have more than 2 cups of coffee each day, and none after 4 or 5 PM. Why not try swapping your coffee for a Turmeric or a Matcha Latte?
Stop the lunchtime binging. A huge lunch can make you drowsy and ineffective afterwards. Since all of your body’s energy is focused on processing the massive meal you just ate, you have less energy to rely on for work tasks and responsibilities. Ever felt like climbing under the desk for that mid afternoon snooze?
Researchers with the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst teamed up with the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Missouri, Columbia. They conducted a health study titled “Effects of Inactivity and Energy Status on Appetite Regulation in Men and Women”.
Inactive participants in the study reported feeling unsatisfied after they ate, suggesting that when you are sedentary and less mobile, you feel hungrier, and are more prone to overeating. When you do eat, it does not fill you up as much as when you are active.
Get down time
Power down your smartphone or tablet at least 2 hours before you go to bed. Studies show that the light emitted from smartphones, PCs and tablets fires up your brain, making it harder to go to sleep. Have a read of Arianna Huffington’s book “The Sleep Revolution”
Stand as much is possible, sitting no more than 3 hours a day. This helps improve your circulation, and allows you to enjoy a steady delivery of energy all day long.
What about standing (or walking meetings)? You may need to convince your co-workers that it’s a good idea. However, stand up meetings may get more accomplished. Remember that your circulation slows down when you’re sitting. People will be more alert if they’re able to stand and move around. If you can’t convince folks to stand, consider breaking meetings up into smaller segments and taking breaks.
Cut back on how much sugar you eat, at home and at work. Sugar causes artificial crashes and energy spikes, and often leads to those mid-afternoon energy breakdowns. Instead eat a moderate amount of protein and good fats – they will fill you up, making you less likely to crave a sugary snack
Sit up straight. Did you know that good posture can actually help improve your energy level? Hunching over and slouching in your chair plays havoc with your circulatory system. This means that poor posture can lead to low energy stores.
Even better than sitting up straight at your desk… why not get a standing desk? Basically a standing desk is a flat platform on legs that allows you to work standing up. Having a standing desk is not so much about standing, but that it is easier to move around while working.
Of course the ultimate in standing desks is one that also comes with a walking treadmill. This allows you to both work and easily walk at the same time. – Now there’s the ulitmate in multi-tasking!
If your company won’t buy a standing workstation, you may get them to rehab your sitting desk into a sitting/standing workstation. Usually all that is needed is an elevated platform to get an external monitor up to eye-level and another shorter platform to get an external keyboard at a height so you can comfortably type while standing when your forearms are parallel to the floor.
Eat nuts and fruit for snacks, instead of sugary treats. Nuts and fruit provide healthy sugars for energy, not the unhealthy refined sugars that can lead to energy spikes and crashes.
These ideas are just the beginning of what’s possible. There are literally hundreds of ways that you can add movement to your day.
What works for you? Any other great tips to share? How do you fight the effects of sitting disease?