Humans aren’t designed to sit for long periods of time. According to a meta-analysis involving over 800,000 subjects, people who sit the most have a 2-fold increase in diabetes, 2.5-fold increase in heart disease, 90% higher risk of death from heart disease and 50% higher risk of death from all causes compared to people who sit the least.
There are many desk jobs in modern society. Given the alarming increase in disease that accompanies sitting all day, these 3 health tips are well-worth implementing.
- Give your workstation a makeover and get a treadmill desk AND/OR standing work station.
- Take breaks: Get up and stretch every hour even if it’s for 1 minute (you can set a popup reminder on your computer calendar). Getting up to get some water will help prevent dehydration, boost circulation, and get you off your booty.
- So sitting is bad for you. Guess what else? Too much bright light and blue light ESPECIALLY after the sun has gone down. Light disrupts melatonin, which is a powerful cancer suppressor.
Work when it is light outside and limit or eliminate evening screen time. If for some reason this isn’t an option, install software to dim your computer screen so blue light doesn’t interfere with sleep as much. Unfortunately, the apps for iPhones and iPads only work if you jailbreak your phone. However, you can dim the brightness on most devices.
Having more time spent in the dark after the sun goes down helps balance hormones, trim fat off your waist, and could even reduce your appetite and cravings (especially at night). Specifically, we need darkness to make Vitamin D, melatonin, and reduce levels of prolactin and cortisol (both of which increase hunger, cravings, blood sugar levels, and fat deposition). When melatonin is low and prolactin high–the adaptation that happens when we get lots of light at nighttime-the hormonal switcheroo decreases leptin (the hormone that tells us to stop eating) and increases neuropeptide-Y (the hormone that tells you to keep eating).
The great thing is that when you dim or turn out the lights at night, the increase in melatonin production will make you sleepy so you’ll go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. So really, the computer time you’d spend at night can be traded for morning screen time…and you’ll be healthier to boot!
In our modern, tech-addicted world, it is easy to forget that we are designed to move around and not have constant access to light and food. For millions of years, we evolved under very different circumstances. Considering this, it isn’t surprising that our bodies are more disease prone when we violate these fundamentals. Taking some initiative to “get back to our lifestyle roots” is the next step in our survival.