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Credit: iStock/Piksel

Getting up and stretching regularly throughout the day can help you live longer

Recent research has shown a strong link between excessive sitting and mortality. Here's how to get out of your chair to give yourself a longer life

I don't want to sound like an alarmist and tell you that your desk job is going to kill you, but the evidence shows that sitting for too long each day can have some serious health consequences.

A Canadian study, two American studies and an Australian paper all showed similar connections between sitting and poor health. The scariest conclusion is that the effects are independent of your physical activity levels. It appears you are at risk even if you exercise regularly but still sit for long periods each day.

The risks really increase if you sit for longer than eight hours each day, so reducing your total sitting time each day to four hours or less is advised. If you work at an office, it can be a challenge to cut down on sitting between commuting, work and leisure time at home.

Easy Ways to Reduce Sitting Time

Stand-up-desk-main.jpgThis treadmill desk was built by the Barefoot Executive, Carrie Wilkerson, and her father with only $50 of plywood and some ingenuity.

Now it's likely your boss isn't going to retrofit the entire office with walking desks so here are some other, cheaper options to sit less each day:

Commuting

  • Ride a bike to work or walk
  • If you drive, leave your lunch in your car so you have to walk to get it

At Work

  • Drink eight glasses of water each day; you'll have to get up frequently to go to the bathroom
  • Conduct walking meetings with your co-workers instead of sitting around a table
  • Stand up when talking on the phone or pace around if you have the space
  • Set an alarm on your computer to go off every 30 minutes and get up to do some exercises like squats, lunges, pushups or light stretches
  • Take a walk after every lunch. It doesn't have to be long, even 10 minutes can be helpful
  • Don't keep snacks or food at your desk, keep them in the lunch room
  • Instead of texting, calling or e-mailing your co-workers, walk to their desk or office and talk to them in person
  • If possible, set up a standing desk to do your work

At Home

  • Cut down on TV time at home or get up during the commercial breaks and do some exercises
  • Go for a family walk after dinner instead of sitting down to watch TV

I realize all these options may not work for everyone. But much like a diet, small changes can make a difference so do what you can.