Are you sitting comfortably?

I love to sit on my ass watching TV. Who's to knock it, if it keeps me entertained and happily occupied during a deadly pandemic? It's not just me of course, we are all screen gazers now. The latest figures show that as a population we are spending an average of 6 hours and 25 minutes a day glued to mainstream or download TV. That's a heck of a lot of sitting and lounging about.

What does all this sitting do to us?

Research shows that sitting for long periods of time is linked to a range of health problems including back and neck pain, cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes and premature death. Sitting is hazardous. It's partly down to the prolonged reclining posture and its effect on our bodies and partly the lack of energy expenditure. You don't burn much energy sitting (just 60 calories an hour). Research also shows that sitting increases your odds of experiencing moderate to severe anxiety and depression. They don't know why, but there seems to a direct link. (Relationship between leisure time physical activity, sedentary behaviour and symptoms of depression and anxiety, BMJ 2017).

So what should we do?

  • Avoid prolonged sitting, take an active break ideally every 30 minutes. Even if its just a walk to the kettle and back.

  • Keep moving even when you're sitting. Stretch and wiggle your legs. Tighten your abs and squeeze your glutes. Throw some punches. Get fidgety.

  • Stand up. Standing gets your metabolism going and burns almost double the amount of energy.

  • Use headphones so you can exercise while you watch. With your headphones on you can dance, do a plank or an active workout in front of the screen.

  • Take moderate-to-vigorous exercise each day. 20 minutes will do. This could be a walk, run or an online HIIT workout. Exercise like this is a useful tool in managing anxiety and stress.

  • Check what you eat and minimise your snacking. It's so tempting to work your way through a packet of crisps or popcorn when yore watching TV. It's absolutely terrible for your glucose levels, so stay healthy and try and hold off until your main meal.