6 ways to combat health risks when you sit down all day

For those of us with a desk job, you’re likely sitting down for most of the workday and then plant yourself on the couch for the remainder of the evening to unwind. It turns out, all that lack of activity is really bad for you. But Ewan Birnie from FIAFitnation has some ways to get moving again. 

A sedentary lifestyle (that is, sitting on your bum for most of the day) is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, metabolic syndromes, and a range of bone conditions. A lack of physical activity is also strongly linked to poorer mental health.

Unfortunately, many of these health risks kick in after being sedentary for as little as four hours a day, but on average Australians sit for almost 10 hours each day. Yikes. So Aussies, it’s time to get moving.

Research shows us that exercise has myriad benefits, from lowering blood pressure to making us feel good, but you don’t need to go to the gym for an hour to reap its benefits. Here are some easy ways to incorporate movement into your day, even if you’re short on time.

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Get moving

It doesn’t need to be structured exercise in a traditional exercise environment. Trying to hit 10,000 steps a day is a great starting point.

Pound the pavement

There is strong evidence that walking regularly can reduce the number of risk factors related to a range of conditions. If it’s hard to find 30 minutes for a stroll in the middle of the day, wake up earlier or hit the pavement after dinner. It’s important to prioritise exercise.

Namaste every day

Yoga is a fantastic option for anyone that has been static for the majority of the day and one of the best things about yoga is that it can be done anywhere anytime and for as little or as long as you like. Taking time to move joints, particularly the hips and shoulders, through their full range of motion can help to address postural issues, remove muscular tension and reduce stress.

Take advantage of tech

There is a range of apps that can be downloaded giving the convenience of completing a workout in the comfort of your own home with whatever time you have. Exercise options are more diverse and accessible than they’ve ever been – there is something for everyone.

Do what works for you

The key to incorporating movement into each day is to find something that matches your abilities and that you enjoy. If it can be integrated into your schedule easily and you don’t dread it, you have a better chance of sticking to it.

If you only have a short window, high-intensity interval training is a great way to get fit fast and it has an undeniable positive impact on most health measures. But if HIIT terrifies you, do some weights, try some Pilates or turn up the music and dance. The main thing is to exercise consistently as this is the defining factor in the success of any exercise program in improving health measures.

Find time

Exercise every day for at least 30 minutes – no excuses. If you can raise your heart rate even slightly and involve some sort of weight-bearing, then you’re on track to have a positive impact on most key health measures and reverse some of the health issues brought on by long periods of sitting.

Ewan Birnie is the national academic manager at FIAFitnation – the fitness industry’s leading education provider.