IF your job requires you to sit all day, chances are you have to find time to get active.
But just making some small adjustments to your daily routine could help you burn calories – and you may even lose weight in the process.
Working age adults in England spend an average of 9.5 hours a day being sedentary, research says.
This gradually increases by age, so that by age 75, people are sedentary for 11 hours per day.
Dr Michael Mosley, a science journalist and former medical doctor, explained why this was so detrimental to health on his BBC Radio 4 podcast, Just one Thing.
He said: “In the UK many of us spend 10 hours a day or more on our backsides, and sadly that's linked to some pretty nasty health outcomes, including an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and death from all causes.”
People who sit more have been found to have more heart attacks and age faster.
And sadly, your sporadic gym sessions won’t be doing much to reverse the harms.
Dr Mosley said research shows “you can't undo the damage of sitting for long periods” unless you do at least 40 minutes of exercise every single day.
In fact, sitting all day “decreases the benefits of exercise”, he said.
So how can you change that?
How to burn 10 marathons in one year
In his podcast, Dr Michael said: "I'm about to do something that really could have a long-term impact on my health, by lowering my blood sugars and burning a surprising amount of calories.
"It's as simple as that, I’m standing up. That’s it. I'm not about to go for a walk with the dog or do my beloved squats. I’m just standing here."
“Getting out of your chair, and spending more time on your feet, is a simple and easy way to boost your health.”
Dr Michael said research suggested standing for three hours more a day was the equivalent of racking up hundreds of miles per year.
By simply working a third of your day standing, you could burn the same amount of calories as 10 marathons in one year, he claimed.
On top of this, it could also help boost metabolism, improve bone health and clear sugar from the body faster.
Dr Michael said: "A few years ago, I was involved with a study, where we asked office workers to stand for an extra three hours a day for a week.
"We found that simply standing up raised their heart rates so much so, that one of the researchers calculated that if you added it up over a year, you would burn the same calories as if you ran about 10 marathons."
Standing burns around 100 to 200 calories an hour, depending on body type.
Even though you are not moving, the muscles are engaged to keep you up. Muscle mass helps to burn more calories.
One review of research by American experts found that people who replaced sitting for standing for six hours per day burned 54 more calories per day than their counterparts.
It may seem like an insignificant amount, but over the course of a year, it could amount to weighing 5.5lbs less.
Add in extra tweaks here and there – such as always taking the stairs and making time for a walk at lunch time – and you’re well on your way to a healthier lifestyle.
Standing up for several hours in a day can seem well out of your reach, and so it might be helpful to work yourself up to it with 15 minute increments over time.
You could challenge yourself to always stand when you take phonecalls or videocalls, do walking meetings, or set a timer to walk around the office or house every 30 minutes.
Small tweaks for weight loss
Researchers found those who get between seven and nine hours most nights have fewer hunger pangs.
Nutrition expert Dr Wendy Hall, from Kings College London, said: “If people are less tired, they may be less inclined to choose sweet, energy dense foods. They also have less opportunity for late-night snacking.”
Eat more fibre
You don’t have to overhaul your diet to lose weight. Just adding in some more fibre from foods like fruit and veg, oats, barley, rye, pulses, brown rice and lentils, could make a big difference.
The NHS says: “There is strong evidence that eating plenty of fibre (commonly referred to as roughage) is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.
“Choosing foods with fibre also makes us feel fuller, while a diet rich in fibre can help digestion and prevent constipation.”
Hoovering and cleaning might be totally tiresome tasks, but if you needed any incentive to clean up your act, this is it. You can burn a serious number of calories from doing basic household chores.
Cleaning, hoovering and tidying are all physical work and require you to be constantly on the move – similar to if you were working out. This means it’s a really effective and easy way to burn calories.
An hour of dusting burns 166 kcals, an hour of hoovering burns 175 kcals while an hour of ironing burns 157 kcals, according to Terri-Ann Nunns, co-founder of the Happy Healthy Mum Plan and creator of the Terri-Ann 123 Diet Plan.
Shift your eating window
We’ve all heard of intermittent fasting. The most popular version is the 16:8 diet, which is when you only eat within an eight hour window of the day while fasting for 16.
Studies suggest that fasting doesn’t necessarily help you lose more weight. However, it may be more simple than cutting down the portion sizes of every meal, and therefore easier to stick to.
One review published in the Annual Review of Nutrition, which analysed 25 studies, found people who used fasting diets didn’t lose more weight over an eight week period compared to those who just restricted their calories.
However, they kept off their seven per cent weight loss for a year.
You could be doing all the right things in your diet, but if you’re stressed, it could be all for nothing, according to Pippa Campbell, a Jersey-based nutritionist.
She told The Sun: “Two big things I look for with new clients that suffer with belly fat are cortisol and insulin.”
Too much cortisol, which is released when we are stressed, has been shown in research to promote overeating and increase appetite, especially for sugary and calorie-dense “comfort foods”.
Over time, elevated cortisol is also linked to insulin resistance, which can contribute to fat storage.
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