High Volume Sitting – Put an end to a sedentary lifestyle

By Ore Taiwo Makinde. Image credit: freepik.

Following the post-COVID-19 lock-down in April/May 2020; individuals, organisations and companies shifted into a new mode. It is for a good reason though, in an era where physical distancing is trending as a new social norm.

Effects of physical (social) distancing

Schools now engage their pupils and students in online classes. Churches air their services and messages from various social media channels. Even hospitals are employing the use of telehealth to attend to patients who did not need to come into the hospital urgently. Global and regional conferences which had been hereto cancelled are now being held virtually. 

Instead of seminars, we now have webinars. It is amazing to watch how life has evolved and how we have adapted so quickly to the present reality. Even more exciting for some of us is being able to watch live football games without an audience in the stadium. Listening to the recorded background echo of music and fans helps to bring home the event in the comfort of our living rooms.

All these efforts are in a bid to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. However, there is one singular theme that is common to all these online events. Sitting and more sitting. We spend most of the day on our seats.

What is high volume sitting?

High volume sitting occurs when an individual spends eight hours or more of the day sitting. Let us do a quick mental calculation. How many hours do you spend sitting in 24 hours? Research shows that our lifestyle encourages high volume sitting which is associated with several chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, osteoarthritis, overweight and obesity. Sedentary living is linked to premature death and unhealthy ageing. The benefits of being physically active cannot be over-emphasized in reducing the risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, clots in the vein, osteoporosis and some cancers, to mention a few.

Steps to overcoming high volume sitting
  • Aim at engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity for 30 to 60 minutes daily either at a stretch or in pulses of 10 or 15 minutes. This includes brisk walking, jogging, swimming or skipping.
  • Get an exercise partner to motivate you and keep the walk interesting. This partner could be your spouse or any of your children.
  • Take on Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tasks to keep yourself active during the day such as washing dishes and engaging in other house chores.
  • Set your phone timer to remind you to stand up once every 20 minutes even if you are in a meeting. It is important to note here that observing the 20-20-20 rule of looking away from your phone or computer device to a distance of 20 feet for at least 20 seconds is important to avoid eye strain.
  • Advocacy should be made to various organisations to schedule intermittent tea-breaks during webinars so that participants do not feel odd having to change their positions from time to time.
  • Adopt a balanced posture when walking which includes standing tall, holding the head up, looking straight ahead and swinging the arms from the shoulders. Wear appropriate clothing or footwear and step lightly to avoid unnecessary injury.

In conclusion, physical activity is important for all individuals. It is time to break out of the high volume sitting mode and move more. This will improve our health-related quality of life, especially when adopted in conjunction with other evidence-based lifestyle changes.

Dr Ore Taiwo Makinde is a Consultant Family Physician and certified Lifestyle Medicine Physician.  She is the founder of Lifestyle Champions International.