5 tips on how to decrease the adverse effects of an overly sedentary lifestyle

During these challenging times, it is easy to just stay at home, Netflix binge-watching while enjoying a glass of wine and minimise any physical activity.
It is easy, but you need to answer one question: is it really worth it, looking from a long term health perspective?
Numerous patients that struggle from adverse effects of the so-called “Sitting Disease” are visiting our practice every single day.
Some of these negative effects can cause and lead to:
  • Increased chance of developing a mental disorder
  • Increased weight
  • Reduced cardiovascular health
  • Reduced metabolic health
  • Developing Venous thrombosis – blood clots
  • Lower back pain and other physical conditions associated with poor posture.
People who sit down more (regardless of exercise) are more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, cancer and associated death. That includes up to 90% higher risk of diabetes and up to 15-20% higher risk of dying from these conditions.
We don’t want to overwhelm you by showing these numbers but make you realise that following an active lifestyle is even more crucial than ever.
What can you do to break through this negative cycle?
  1. We have said it before, but we will constantly be reminding you of introducing regular physical activity.
There are plenty of ways to exercise from home using household objects and your body weight, for example; Create a circuit of 7 simple exercises, 1 minute for each exercise, 15s rest between exercises, 3 rounds of the circuit (with 2-minute breaks in between rounds). It will take almost exactly 30 minutes. Simple, but effective. Make sure the exercises are challenging!
If you would like more advice on what exercises to do or if you would like an exercise program designed for you or loved ones, please contact us!
  1. Regularly break up the periods of prolonged sitting
We suggest getting up from the seat every 20-30 minutes and introduce a gentle physical activity that can be performed at home.
What are some simple ways to do this?
  • Set alarms/timers
  • Get up and walk around after every TV show or a business meeting if you are working from home
  • Some Smart Phones and Smartwatches have Breathe, Stand-up and Exercise goals/reminders which you can calibrate to your preference.
  • Walk around the house when taking phone calls if able.
  1. Set up an ergonomic work station and make sure that you have a proper posture while sitting.
Sitting for long periods is closely associated with many forms of neck pain, shoulder pain and headaches. Moreover, a poor sitting posture can bring on these issues quicker.
What can you do? First of all, make sure that you educate yourself on how to keep a proper sitting posture and, second of all, be more mindful and correct your current sitting patterns. We have recorded an educational video on how to set up an ergonomic station. You can watch it HERE!
  1. Perform simple stretching and strengthening exercises while sitting at your desk.
There has been interesting evidence recently showing that performing light strengthening exercises at your desk has helped reduce neck, shoulder and headache symptoms. We have also prepared a simple stretching and strengthening program for you so that you can try it yourself. All you need is some light weights (1-2kg) and 5 minutes. You can check our instructional video HERE.
  1. Your motivation should be followed by dedication and discipline.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is challenging to find the motivation to introduce positive changes in life. But to be honest, motivation is not enough on many occasions. It is a great tool, to begin with, but it can be fleeting.
Dedication and discipline are also required to continue once you have started. Even when you see improvements and are feeling better, you must continue exercising to keep it that way and to improve further!
If you are struggling with dedication or discipline, the best way to counter that and make yourself accountable – is to find a buddy! Another way is to create a schedule or choose exercises that you really enjoy doing. Our advice is always: “Find what you enjoy doing, and go and do it regularly!”
 
Avoiding pain should not only be the main intentive to exercise regularly. Many studies have shown that regular physical activity (alongside with numerous other health benefits);
  • Increases the quality of life
  • Improves mood
  • Decreases psychological stress levels, and
  • Calms the nervous system
In one sentence: You will feel happier, more fulfilled and peaceful, so the benefits of exercises are unquestionable.

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