These five words will change your life: "Sitting is the new smoking." Thank you, Joseph McClendon III and Tony Robbins, for creating a new movement to stamp out workplace obesity.
This simple phrase sums up so much of what Americans struggle with today. We sit at our desks typing, drawing and interacting with our computers. Our bodies were simply not designed to sit for that long. We don't move as much throughout the day as we need to and we eat the wrong "comfort" foods in order to offset our lack of energy. It's a really destructive downward spiral. And then we wonder why we're currently facing an obesity epidemic.
The answer is simple and we've known it all our lives: "Eat right and exercise more." The problem is as our 8 hour work days become 10 and 12 hour days (often including the weekends), we're finding less and less time to live the healthy lifestyle that our bodies require. Even if we take the time to get up at 5am and go to the Gym, all that great work is met with a much larger sedentary lifestyle.
"Sitting is the new smoking" is about changing all of that. The concept that "smoking is bad" has been drilled into all of us. If we can now further associate the act of sitting with the act of smoking, then whoa, look out!
At first glance, you might be thinking that not sitting at work would be extremely difficult. You have a chair at your desk, a chair at your conference room, a chair in the break room, a chair in the waiting room of your appointment, and just about anywhere you want to be. But if you can start to associate sitting down with smoking, your body immediately reacts differently. You want to pop up in your chair and get your blood flowing--which, it turns out, is exactly what you need.
I admit, I had my reservations, but I'm the kind of person who's willing to give new ideas a try. For my first two days back in the office, I sat a total of 2 hours (or 1 hour per day). I took all my calls on my cell phone so that I could walk around. Our building is a large rectangle, so I walked around our floor like it was an outdoor college track during my calls. I even went up and down 5 flights of stairs. If you walk slow enough, you don't lose your breath and the caller on the other end of the phone doesn't know you're increasing your exercise routine dramatically--like, all day instead of just the one hour I normally take in the morning or evening.
What's most important to understand here is that there are more benefits than simply losing weight. As you move around your office, you release endorphins (just like when you exercise) and your energy continues to go up. You feel more alive and you bring that increased feeling of power to everything you do. Your productivity improves as your energy soars.
Think about it. How different would your next meeting be if you were standing and moving versus sitting down? Would your room full of people "multi-task" or pay attention? Would you allow someone to drone on about something that doesn't matter or would you interrupt them to ask what they are really trying to say? Your whole attitude changes when you are full of energy and fully engaged. Sitting allows us to relax and disengage. Try it. Remove all the chairs from the conference room and notice the difference in the quality of the meeting.
When you embrace the concept that "Sitting is the new smoking," you will find that the less you sit, the more engaged you are at whatever you're doing. You are much stronger than you give yourself credit for. You can, in fact, stand most of your day. Your legs don't get as tired as you might think. And, when they do, just stretch and notice that they are ready to keep working. It might feel awkward at first, but keep at it and notice what changes. I assure you that there is a direct correlation to the amount of time you're standing up and quality of the work you're delivering. Sit less. Do more. Empower others to do the same.