You may want to stand up to read this. A study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in four Americans sit for more than eight hours a day. This is concerning because a sedentary lifestyle has been associated with a number of increased health risks including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension and certain types of cancer.
This problem is not limited to the United States. A global study by the World Health Organization found that more than a quarter of adults globally (27.5 percent) were inadequately active in 2016. In four countries, Kuwait, American Samoa, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq, more than half of all adults were considered insufficiently active.
The study also found that the prevalence of insufficient physical activity was twice as high in high-income countries, as compared to low-income countries. And with the exception of east and southeast Asia, women were less active than men globally.
There is good news. A study published last year in the Journal of Epidemiology found that just a short amount of physical activity can substantially reduce risks associated with inactivity. The study found that replacing 30 minutes per day of sedentary time with just 30 minutes of physical activity at a light intensity was associated with a 17% lower risk of early death. And replacing 30 minutes of sedentary time with 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise was associated with a 35% lower risk of early death.
Joe Belanger, NBC-HWC, is a senior wellness coach at Workplace Options, the world’s largest independent provider of employee wellbeing support solutions. Joe encourages the individuals he coaches to think about the small things they can do to incorporate more activity into their existing routines. Joe offers the following examples:
- Walk to the bathroom that is the furthest away
- Drink more water, that in turn forces you to get up to go to the bathroom more (bonus points for this one being a two-for-one health benefit)
- Park in a spot furthest away
- Set an alarm to remind you to get up and move
- Pick the longest line at the check-out (you’ll also improve your patience)
- Walk in place while your favorite character is on tv (we’ll see how long they’re your favorite…)
- Take a walk around that soccer field while your little one is at practice
Joe also encourages participants to schedule time for regular exercise, like a daily walk with a coworker, neighbor or friend. The goal with regular exercise is to get the heart rate up.*
Joe points out that before starting something new, it’s helpful to identify your inner motivations behind the change. “Ask yourself why you want to get healthy. Do you want to have the energy to keep up with your children or grandchildren? Are you trying to increase your stamina for your softball league? Identifying your ultimate motivation for lifestyle change goes a long way in helping you achieve your wellbeing goals.”
*Consult with your physician before starting any physical exercise program.
Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family and personal needs to become healthier, happier and more productive, both personally and professionally. The company’s world-class employee support, effectiveness and wellbeing services provide information, resources, referrals and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care and stress management to clinical services and wellness programs. To learn more visit www.workplaceoptions.com.