Sitting is the new smoking.
Being a student usually requires a lot of…well…sitting. Sitting for lectures, sitting for video or training presentations, sitting to write essays. Especially when deadlines are looming, sitting at a computer may be unavoidable and you may feel as if you’re chained to a chair with no time to think about the risks of a sedentary lifestyle. Since experts say that sitting is the new smoking, how can you combat the negative health effects of too much sitting?
Stay active during your school day
1) Take the stairs
Sure, it takes a little more effort than an escalator or elevator, but the extra workout will pay off. If you’re used to taking a shortcut to class, leave yourself some extra time and take the long route.
2) Get up every hour and stretch
The advice from experts to counteract the effects of constant sitting is simple: Stand up more and move around more. Some recommend standing every half hour, but if possible, try to stand up and stretch at least every hour during your school day. The goal is to break up extended periods of inactivity. You could even lobby to have your school invest in adjustable height desks that can accomodate standing.
3) Go for a brisk walk at lunch
Regular and frequent intervals of exercise are just as important as an end-of-the-day or week workout, so whenever you have spare time or a lunch break, make it count! Don’t sit in the school cafeteria or library when you don’t have to. Even if you’re cramming for an exam or working on a thesis, think while you walk. Bring along your mobile device and use it to listen to lectures or jot down ideas.
4) Enlist the support of others
Standing up in the middle of a classroom and doing some stretching won’t seem so intimidating if others join in. Perhaps you can arrange, with the permission of any professors, to have pre-planned exercise breaks where the entire class can join in the physical activity.
5) Join intramurals
A lifestyle involving regular physical exertion is a passion that feeds itself. Standing and moving around often will come as a natural response to extended periods of sitting. Joining high school, college or university intramurals is a great way to stay active and to foster a desire to be less sedentary.
The truth is, our bodies were designed to lead a much more active lifestyle than the ‘progress’ of the 20th century has resulted in. Time spent sitting in a classroom is time well-invested, but so is time spent making sure you’re as active as possible throughout the day.