QJ Health: The side effects of sitting

You won’t want to sit down when I tell you the latest health scare, because that’s exactly the problem — sitting.

This unhealthy habit hits close to home for university students who spend many hours a day sitting in lectures or studying at the library.

According to an Oct. 2014 report by The Conference Board of Canada, based on Statistics Canada research, experts warned that sitting is the “new smoking.” Some dangerous effects of prolonged sitting include an increased risk in diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.

Our current culture has taught us that as long as we drag our butts to the gym or occasionally go jogging, we’ve checked the box in terms of protecting our physical health.

This new research shows that getting up and doing a lap around the library every few minutes might be even more important than that 30 minutes of cardio every other day.

Yet the research also shows that only 15 per cent of Canadian adults get the recommended 150 minutes a week of vigorous physical activity.

Does the 150 mark ring a bell? You might recognize it from the ARC’s recently-launched “Get your 150” campaign, an initiative to encourage students to be more physically active.

What we need to remember though, is that movement needs to be interspersed throughout our days — not just limited to the time we spent in the gym.

Here’s what you can do to keep on your feet.

Sit less at the library

Fill your water bottle up only halfway when you go to the fountain. You have to get up twice as often to fill it and also do a lap around the floor.

Visit a washroom on a different floor. This way, you’ll get in a flight of stairs — just remember to ask the person beside you to watch your things.

Use movement as a reward. Every time you finish a reading a chapter or an article, get up and do a full body stretch.

Sit less at home

Consider wearable technology. There are tons of different options on the market right now that allow you to track the number of steps you take, stairs you climb, calories you burn and so much more. Having a goal to reach, like 10,000 steps a day, can be a great motivator to move more.

Walk instead of taking public transit. With the Kingston winter flexing its muscles at the moment, this can seem unappealing. But if you check the weather and bundle up, you may be surprised by how much more refreshed you feel when you arrive in class.

Study with cue cards. Since these are less bulky than a book, you can pace while you study. Cue cards can also be taken to the gym to use while on a stationary bike or stretching your lower body.

Ask a housemate or friend to go for a walk. The Kingston waterfront is just as breathtaking in winter as it is in summer, especially when it’s frozen. You can also offer to walk a neighbour’s dog to sneak in some extra fresh air.


Fitness, Health, Sitting

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