Combating Prolonged Sitting


Rates of obesity and overweight prevalence in the U.S. have increased dramatically over the past 50 years. The CDC shows that obesity has increased from 30.5% to 39.6% in adults over 20 years of age from 2000 to 2016. This increase in obesity correlates with improvements in technology, increased availability of high calorie foods, and decreased activity levels in jobs.  Current research has shown that today’s work environment has switched to prolonged sitting periods due to increased use of computers and decreased use of paper-based work. Unfortunately, prolonged sitting and sedentary behavior is a risk factor for obesity, musculoskeletal disorders, type 2 diabetes, cardio-metabolic disease, some types of cancers, and premature death. Thankfully, there are actions one can take to combat sitting’s negative health consequences. Below is a list of four tips you can use to improve your health:

  1. Implementing active breaks

By splitting up sitting with active breaks, you can reduce your health risk. A great rule to follow is the 30/60 rule. For every 30 minutes of sitting, do at least 60 seconds of activity. Activity examples include: chair squats, wall-pushups, high knees, a walking break, dynamic stretches, etc. Additional ways to increase work day activity include implementing walk meetings with co-workers, taking the stairs, and taking standing breaks at your desk if possible.

  1. Implementing a step goal during the day

In conjunction with goal #1, implementing a step goal will give you a number to strive for on a daily basis and lead to increased daily activity. You can record your daily steps by either using a smart phone app, wrist technology, or another pedometer device. I recommend first tracking your normal routine then setting a reasonable 10-15 % increase for the next week.

  1. Regular exercise

Combining consistent purposeful aerobic activity with the above two tips can help improve your health and will more directly improve your cardiovascular fitness. Current guidelines recommend 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, 75-150 minutes of vigorous intensity per week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous intensity exercise. I recommend starting with 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week if you are just beginning to exercise or you have not worked out in quite some time.

  1. Improve your posture

Prolonged sitting can wreck your posture, create muscular imbalances, and cause pain in various muscles and joints. I recommend practicing good sitting posture, implementing stretches (especially for the hip flexor, external hip rotators, and anterior portion of the shoulder), and regular strengthening exercises (especially for the glutes, back, and core).


Article by James Collins BA, ACSM CPT, RRCA Run Coach 


For more information about implementing these tips or starting a fitness routine, you can visit the CoxHealth fitness center web page here.