By Dr Helen Flaherty, Head of Health Promotion at Heart Research UK
Unless you are a wheelchair user, there is evidence to show that prolonged periods of sitting can increase your risk of developing heart disease. Modern technology has changed how we spend our work and leisure time. It is not uncommon for people to spend several hours every day sitting behind a desk, watching TV, playing computer games or sitting at the wheel of a car.
We have some tips to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting.
The NHS provides advice on activities that are suitable for wheelchair users with different physical abilities: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/wheelchair-users-fitness-advice/
Take regular breaks from your seat
Whenever you are going to be sitting for prolonged periods of time, set an alarm to remind yourself to get up and move around regularly. If you are sitting watching TV, why not use the advert breaks to prompt you to get moving. You could use this time to run up and down the stairs, dance around the living room or do some star jumps.
Step away from your desk
The government has recently advised us to work from home over the winter if we can. As a result of this, many people are missing out on their active commute to work, such as walking or cycling. If you are working from home without moving much, you could set a timer to remind yourself to get up and move at regular intervals. Why not set yourself a 5 to 10 minute chore to complete once an hour that will get you moving, such as hanging laundry, hoovering or cleaning windows.
Active phone calls
Avoid staying seated during phone calls. Use the opportunity to walk around or do some squats and lunges. If you own exercise equipment, such as a stationary bike or treadmill, you could hop on for the duration of your phone call. Be careful not to get too out of breath during your phone call. You could pump up the pace for a few minutes after the call ends.
Choose hobbies that will get you moving
If your hobbies involve lots of time sitting, such as needlework, computer games, board games, reading or painting, try to get up and move around at regular intervals. You could set a timer to remind yourself to move more often. You could also look for new hobbies that will get you moving more, such as gardening, walking and DIY. If you enjoy reading, why not listen to an audio book through headphones while you take a walk or read while you pedal on a stationary bike.
Is online shopping keeping you in your seat?
Unless you are shielding or self-isolating due to COVID-19, you could switch from sitting in front of a screen to do online food shopping and start walking or cycling to the shops instead. Not only will this increase your physical activity, but it will also free up supermarket delivery slots for vulnerable people who need them the most.
You can find more healthy tips, recipes and advice at heartresearch.org.uk.