The average American office worker now spends 10 hours per day sat in a chair. If you think about it, this statistic isn’t so surprising – whether we’re writing reports, checking e-mails, making phone calls, surfing the internet, or watching TV, most of us remain seated throughout the day.
But staying seated for long periods is linked with an increased risk of fat accumulation and weight gain. You might think that this is just because sitting doesn’t burn many calories, but there is another mechanism at work.
When you stay sitting down for long periods of time, you put your body’s cells under physical pressure. This encourages lipid droplets to form inside your fat cells, and it causes the resulting fat tissue to enlarge and spread. This “cellular expansion” can mean that your fat cells grow by up to 50%.
Specifically, sitting down for hours at a time promotes fat storage in the buttocks. Worse, once your fat cells begin to grow, they also stiffen – this makes the tissue harder to shift through diet and exercise.
How to Stop the Fat Cells from Expanding
Luckily, there are a few easy things you can do to reduce the risk of rapid fat accumulation. To put it simply, you have to move! Medical researchers published an article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine advising that American workers should make sure that they are standing up and moving for at least 2 hours over the course of the average working day.
So how should you start? You don’t have to leave the office and go for a long walk – small and simple movements, repeated frequently over the course of the day, are actually the most effective.
Start to Fidget
A UK-based study that looked at the fidgeting habits and health of over 12,000 women found a clear link between fidgeting and mortality. Basically, the more you fidget, the lower your mortality risk! Just taking a few moments to move around in your seat, shift your posture, standing up, and taking a short walk can drastically reduce the risks associated with prolonged sitting.
If you are worried that making time for quick breaks will harm your productivity, relax! There is no evidence that this is the case. In fact, research has demonstrated that taking a short breaks boost productivity and creativity. So don’t be afraid to prioritize your physical health by breaking up your workday.
Cement the Changes
Make it a rule that you will make a conscious effort to move around every 20 minutes whilst at work. You can set a reminder on your phone or computer to stand up and stretch, to change your posture, or go for a quick walk if possible. The more you move, the better! If you work in close proximity to other people, you could all decide to hold each other accountable!
Remember, you can’t afford to remain too stationary. It may sound dramatic, but our sitting habits are posing a real risk to our health. Making the effort to move around on a regular basis will help keep your weight in check. Once you have formed new habits, they will stick with you for years to come.
Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com
|||^||National Post: Sitting too much causes fat cells of the buttocks to expand and stiffen, promoting obesity, study finds|
|||^||Washington Post: Health experts have figured out how much time you should sit each day|
|||^||American Journal of Preventive Medicine: Sitting Time, Fidgeting, and All-Cause Mortality in the UK Women’s Cohort Study|
|||^||Huffington Post: 5 Science-Backed Ways Taking a Break Boosts Our Productivity|