Staying sedentary or sitting for long periods can take a toll on your body, but the following tricks can help reverse any damage that may be done to your body.
Sitting side effect: Depression
According to a study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, middle-aged women who sit for more than seven hours a day are more likely to report signs of depression than those who sit four or less hours daily.
To fight it, spend some time in nature. People who took a 90-minute walk in a natural setting were less likely to ruminate on negative emotions than those who strolled in an urban setting. Dwelling too much on those negative thoughts can increase risk for depression and other mental illnesses.
Sitting side effect: Insulin problems
Just a single day of being sedentary can dramatically reduce activity of insulin, which helps keep blood sugar in check. When your body doesn’t use insulin correctly, you could end up at risk for type 2 diabetes.
To prevent this, carry a water bottle with you. When you’re dehydrated, levels of the hormone vasopressin rise, which increases blood sugar levels and hurts the body’s ability to use insulin properly.
A French study also reported that people who drink more water have lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Aim for 17 to 34 ounces a day, which is how much the study’s highest water consumers drank.
Sitting side effect: Neck pain
Craning your neck to read a computer screen can strain your spine. Keeping your head 30 degrees in front of your body requires three to four times more muscle than holding it straight. To fight it, position your computer so the middle of the screen is level with your chin, which will encourage you to keep your neck in a neutral position.
If centering it isn’t realistic, improve your posture by elevating your computer or TV rather than positioning it so you have to look down. Turning up the brightness could also help if you find yourself straining to see the screen.
Sitting side effect: Lack of concentration
Sitting down restricts blood flow and prevents oxygen from reaching your brain, leaving you foggy-brained and unable to concentrate. Trying to fight this by doing all your away-from-desk tasks at once could actually work against you.
You’re actually more efficient if you move than if you don’t move. Break up your day by delivering a package to a coworker at one point, then getting up later to make copies rather than saving both tasks for the same trip.