You might have seen some of the studies that link too much sitting with serious health problems. I'd heard some of the numbers but didn't think much about it until I saw this video from AsapSCIENCE:
Here's the breakdown if you can't/don't want to watch the video (though it's awesome as are all of their videos). There are serious, long-term health risks to sitting for hours every day. It affects your ability to burn fat, process glucose and leads to a higher risk of heart disease. After 10-20 years of sitting for 6+ hours a day you may have lost as many as 7 quality-of-life years—that is, years without medical issues (based on this 2007 study). The statistics are a little terrifying.
The worst part is that you can't make up for sitting all day by exercising, just like you can't make up for drinking all night by doing push ups.
There's good news!
Amazingly, you only need to get up for 5 minutes every hour to completely negate these effects. So that's awesome. Even better, there's an app for that. #Spoileralert it's only available on iOS (sorry android users but there seem to be a few for you too).
While you can set a timer I've found a dedicated app works better for at least two reasons.
- Using the built-in timer on your phone means you can't use it for anything else and since this is something you want to use all day that's no good.
- Being able to set, start and adjust your stand-up timer quickly is essential for easy use. If it's not easy to do you're not going to do it.
The app I use is called Stand Up! and it's free and well made, two of my favorite things in an app. Here's what it looks like:
It's super simple to setup and use with no unnecessary fluff. The yellow lines at the top are how long you've been on your butt. You can change the colors, the alert message and the alert volume. It tells you how long you've got until you're next reminder and it has a "don't bother me" feature for delaying alerts. You can delay for 30, 60 or 90 minutes or turn if off for the rest of the day.
- Set alerts for anywhere between every five and 120 minutes in 5-minute increments
- Set a time frame for alerts, like say between 9am and 5pm (what a way to make a living)
- Limit it to one location so it doesn't go off when you're not at your desk
- Limit the days it goes off
Mine is set to go off every 65 minutes because I generally get up for about 5-15 minutes. That way I'll get up about every hour. If you want to change the sounds you'll need to make a payment of at least 99 cents. I'm happy with the default sounds but I'm tempted to pay anyway because it's such a great app. It was developed by Mark Wright and Jim Biancolo (read more about them here) and they have another minimal app for goal tracking. I haven't tried that one although it's… one of my goals o(≧▽≦)o.
Download Stand Up! here:
And now some more screenshots.
How it's changed my life
When I got this app I was chiefly concerned with the weight loss although the not-dying aspect stood out too. I honestly figured I'd never be able to get into the habit of getting up every hour but figured I'd do my best to try. However, there are two surprising benefits of the app and the idea of standing up regularly that have helped me stay with it.
First, I get more done. I work from home and I use the breaks to tackle housework tasks. I'll wash a few dishes, sweep up or change the cat litter. Little by little I get a lot done and feel more productive. It's a nice way to manage tasks.
The other big plus is fighting what I'll call task fatigue. Often when I'm working on something for more than an hour I tend to get worse and worse at it. I'm less creative, I make more mistakes and it feels like I'm moving through syrup. Then you get to that stage where you're "almost finished" and things just get worse. Getting up regularly helps me fight this. I come back refreshed and often something that had been tedious and frustrating is a piece of cake. It's still hard to tear myself away sometimes and I've hit ignore on more alerts than I'd like to admit but it's improved my workflow a lot.
I think it's worth a try and it's free so go for it. Meanwhile here are some more tips for standing up regularly from AsapSCIENCE: