The Two-Minute Walking Habit (and How it Prevents the Dangers of Sitting Too Long)

Are you feeling sluggish at work?

Are you experiencing digestive problems, back pain, numbness in your legs and feet?

Are you pretty tired of that flabbiness around your middle?

You are probably sitting too much and the two-minute walking habit just might be the perfect solution to these problems.

If you are like me, you probably get focused on whatever task is in front of you and simply don’t take enough time to get up from your seat and take a break, even though doing so might help to avoid some health consequences with deadly potential.

A new study suggests that engaging in low intensity activities such as standing may not be enough to offset the health hazards of sitting for long periods of time.

On the bright side, building the two-minute walking habit each hour can have a major improvement on your health and wellbeing

But first, let's talk about why it's risky to sit in a chair for an extended period of time.

What are the dangers of sitting too long?

Though not all of the dangers of sitting too long directly threaten your life, many of them are and it is essential that you understand the health risk that you’re taking when you stay glued to that computer screen or even that television set.

When you consider that the dangers involved can have an effect on your body from head to toe, it just might bring you out of your chair.

Here are four dangerous risks you take when you sit too long on a daily basis:

#1. Starting at the Top

Sitting too long slows down our circulation and takes us into a relaxed state that decreases the chemical reactions that are necessary for brain function and might even cause us to be depressed. Chronic headaches and eye strain are also associated with circulation issues and our tendency to crane our necks as we focus.

#2. Organ Damage

The most critical organ damage, of course, is the damage that is done to the heart. In a sitting position, the heart has to work 50% harder to circulate blood through our veins. If that wasn’t enough, being in a sedentary state for a prolonged period of time can also cause damage to our pancreas, kidneys and colon.

#3. Back and Neck Issues

We have already mentioned our tendency to crane our necks when we’re sitting, but the issues extend all the way down our spinal column, causing our vertebrae to become compressed. Compressed vertebrae, over time, produce degenerative disc problems that can go well beyond an aching back.

#4. Muscle Degeneration and Flabbiness

Too much sitting can cause what some refer to as accountant’s butt or a secretary’s spread. In both cases the issue is the degeneration of three sets of muscles; the abs, the hips and the glutes.

Issues with Legs and Feet

The legs and feet take a beating when you sit too much and they can be the source of developing a dangerous condition known as thrombosis or blood clotting. Decreased circulation might also cause varicose veins and even numbness in your feet and toes.

This short video sums up these and several other health dangers of sitting too long.

Advantages of Incorporating the Two-Minute Walking Habit Into Every Hour

Luckily the damage that we discussed above can be prevented or even reversed by the simple process of incorporating the two-minute walking habit into each hour of your day.

  • Increased Brain Function. When your muscles are in motion, it pumps fresh blood into your brain. Fresh blood triggers all sorts of chemical reactions that enhance brain function as well as mood. It also opens up the constricted blood vessels that cause headaches.
  • Vital Organ Health. Getting our blood flowing again takes pressure off of our heart and gives it a break from working so hard. It decompresses the other organs and allows them to breathe as well.
  • Eliminating Back and Neck Issues. Allowing your spine to decompress by walking, helps relieve those back pains and degenerative disc issues.
  • Maintaining Muscle Tone and Bone Strength. Walking not only helps maintain muscle tone, but also bone strength.
  • Improved Circulation in Legs and Feet. Improved circulation in the legs and feet prevents thrombosis, varicose veins and numbness in the feet.

How to Implement the Two-Minute Walking Habit into Your Daily Routine

Any sort of lifestyle change has to be accompanied by some sort of plan for implementing the new habit into your daily routine. Without such a plan, your best intentions will fall off the path and you’ll slouch back into your old habits again.

Here are some suggestions that might help you get your feet moving in the right direction.

  • Set a timer. Use your watch or phone. If you listen to music or nature sounds while you work, have them cut off every hour as a reminder. Get up and walk after the completion of a task that last about an hour
  • Make your bathroom breaks, coffee breaks, lunch breaks, etc. a time for walking instead of lounging (maybe we need to rename the “employee lounge”)
  • Arrange your office where you have to get up and walk to get to files or supplies that you need.
  • Walk to another employee's office or workstation with a memo instead of sending an email.

Getting On Your Feet

If you’re like me, you probably get too wrapped up into what you’re doing to stop, take a break and get your blood moving again. However, with the list of damages that sitting too long does to your body, don’t you think it’s worth making a simple lifestyle change that will not only prolong your life, but get rid of those aches and pains that go along with it? Life is short, so take a walk and enjoy it.

You can also build a daily walking habit to help you lose or maintain weight.

Your questions, comments and suggestions for getting out of your seat and on your feet are certainly welcome. Below are links to other articles that might motivate you to enhance your quality of life.

Sources

The Dangers of Sitting Too Long, Joseph Mercola, M.D.T

Two Minute Walk Every Hour May Offset Effects of Sitting, Web MD

Company’s Hourly Exercise Breaks Make It More Productive, Fast Company

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Are you feeling sluggish at work? You are probably sitting too much and the two-minute walking habit just might be the solution that you are looking for.



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