After explaining the awful effects of prolonged sitting, the follow-up question I am asked more than any other is “How can we reduce our sitting?” My immediate answer is always two-fold: move more and sit less. The mindset and attitude around my approach can be better understood in The Sit Less Mindset article. The idea is simple, we need to start with moving more and adjust our long term goals to sitting less. Here is what that would look like for immediate action.
Step 1: Move More
Start with breaking up prolonged sitting to intervals of 20-30 minutes (the reasons for this specific interval can be found in The Truth on Sitting and Your Health article). As you break up prolonged sitting you will have to find activities to do while standing or walking. These can include chores, stretches, going to the bathroom, and even watering your plants (I might need to bring that one back in myself). Just make sure you move! The target is to be moving for 2 minutes, but if you start with standing for 2 seconds, it is still better than nothing. Repetition helps build the habit. While this will improve your health, it will only reduce your sitting by 30 minutes or so. This is where we need to apply the second piece.
Step 2: Sit Less
Change up how you are doing work tasks. Find a way to stand for an hour at work, then two hours. You do not need to invest in a standing desk or fancy computer setups to accomplish this. Standing for 20 minutes 3 times a day can be done at a counter or with a pile of boxes or books. As with the first step, it takes time to build the habit of transitioning into standing. It should not be forced through back aches and exhaustion. Try standing for 5-10 minutes and if you feel fatigued, sit down. You can always stand up again in an hour. Meetings and trainings can be a perfect opportunity to stand up and actually be more engaged.
After hearing the two steps, most people will inevitably do the first, see marginal improvements and stay there. You have to do both. It is only when we start with moving more and add in the adaptations from sitting less that we have a truly transformative effect on our health, our work, and our life.