Our Sedentary Situation
Published on May 8, 2019. Updated on Sep 22, 2020.
For many of us this year, our home has become our work/study place and being in quarantine does not give us many options to get moving. On today's blog, medical student Daniel encourages and reminds us that we must make an effort to set time to go for a walk throughout the day for our health's sake!
If we could look back a hundred or so years, we would be surprised at the profound changes in human activity. Humans have become increasingly less active in this short time due to advances in technology such as cars, computers, televisions, and cell phones. Technology improves our lives in many ways, it also significantly reduces the need for us to move. This lack of movement is harmful and has led to our current “sedentary situation.”
Sedentary situation and our health
Research suggests that a sedentary lifestyle contributes to developing many increasingly common health conditions, including heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, depression, arthritis, and some cancers.
Extended time spent doing sedentary tasks, such as sitting at a desk all day, has independent health risks even if you exercise regularly. Regular exercise is crucial, but moving throughout the day is also vital to staying healthy.
Sedentary situation and our work
Work is the most sedentary environment for many of us.
In some occupations, nearly 80% of working hours are currently spent sedentary. If a typical forty-hour workweek is considered, employees can spend approximately 30 hours each week sitting!
In addition to the harmful health effects, sedentary employees are often less productive, take more sick days, and have lower job satisfaction.
Sedentary situation and studying
Unfortunately, studying can result in even more time spent sedentary than the typical workplace for full-time students like me!
Many medical students study more than 40 hours per week. Whether in a library or classroom, these long hours spent at a desk incur the same health risks as those in sedentary workplaces.
Fortunately, new technology and revolutionary online education companies, like Osmosis, provide students with unique opportunities to study on the move!
I love Osmosis because they provide high-quality videos I can access wherever and whenever I want. I typically watch these on my tablet or phone while I walk outside. This makes studying much more enjoyable and even helps me remain more alert and focused.
Also, I often walk with other medical students while we quiz each other using flashcards or practice questions. Having these resources provided by Osmosis, and making a conscious effort to move more has dramatically reduced my sedentary time and made medical school much more enjoyable!
Whether you are a student or employee, you can do lots of small things to start moving a little more every day. Small changes will help all of us be more productive, healthy, and happy. Here are some simple ways to move more at work or school:
Walk while watching videos or listening to audio content
Hold walking meetings or study groups whenever possible
Walk during scheduled breaks and lunch
Stand up or shift positions often
Set reminders to move on your phone or computer
Use the stairs instead of taking an elevator
Walk while on the phone or whenever other tasks allow
Most important, aim to get up and move at least once every hour!
Moving just a little more each day can increase your health and happiness! Whether you are a student or work in an office, we can all improve this “sedentary situation” and happily reap the many movement benefits.
Daniel Brandley is a third year medical student at the University of Utah School of Medicine. He grew up mostly in the small town of West Point, Utah. Daniel plans to do a dual specialty in internal medicine and pediatrics (Med-Peds) and remain involved in public health, promoting healthy lifestyles and preventative medicine. He loves to play sports like soccer, basketball, Spikeball, racquetball, pickle-ball, etc. He also loves being outside, hiking or camping, or just enjoying the sun and not studying.