Don’t let too much sitting at your desk harm your health

man in office on the telephone
Photograph by Erik Snyder — Getty Images

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By Jay Cardiello,

It is not unusual to find entrepreneurs and executives at their desks for 10 to 12 (and even more) hours a day, determined to create, grow and sustain their businesses. While hard work almost always leads to business success, sitting at a desk all day can also have negative consequences.

Recently, several studies have pointed to the dangerous effects of prolonged sitting. A study by German researchers found that sitting too much is the new smoking — raising your risk of diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers. And the risk actually increases with each two-hour period of sitting time.

Another review recently published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute confirms that sitting can be fatal, with too much sitting being associated with a 24 percent increased risk of colon cancer, a 32 percent increased risk of endometrial cancer, and a 21 percent increased risk of lung cancer. The really bad news? Not even exercise can reverse the harmful effects of sedentary behavior.

Business owners can either let this information scare them, or make some simple changes and do something about it. My mantra has always been, “change your life, not your lifestyle.” Successful business owners are never going to close up shop, or start working less. They have a business to run! Instead, it’s about finding ways to incorporate health and fitness into what we already do every day.

Movement is the key. Our bodies were never made to sit hunched over a desk or computer all day. The negative effects on our circulation, respiration and posture show up in the statistics of how many people suffer from diseases and back problems from sitting. When you combine this with poor nutrition and obesity, the effects are even worse. Add to this the mental aspect: a lack of movement increases fatigue, reduces focus, adds stress and lowers productivity.

Below are some of my top tips for incorporating movement into your day:

1. Change the way you sit

A new way of sitting called motion seating can help you keep moving and burning calories while you work. Swopper chairs allow for bouncing, moving, perching and rocking, while also helping maintain proper posture. Moving while sitting every day vs. sedentary sitting has a profound cumulative effect on health while also improving mood, mental clarity, focus and increasing energy levels. The new muvman chairs are perfect for the modern workplace.

2. Walk while you talk

Take conference calls while you walk around the office. This is not only good for fitness, but it helps manage stress and fires up creativity.

3. Move every hour

Every hour at work, have a little ringer go off from your cell phone, or set yourself a computer reminder to take a stretch, walk to the nearest copy machine or grab water.

4. Take 10-minute exercise breaks

It can be hard for business owners to find time during the day to get in a full 30-minute workout or hit the gym. Instead, try exercising at your desk in various 10-minute intervals. This could include simple things such as 50 stand-ups, squatting into your chair; 100 arm rolls forward, 100 backward; 10 to 15 desk push ups and wall squats.

5. Alter your behaviors

Find ways to move without really trying or without changing your activities. Park near the back of the parking lot and walk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, stand up to visit the file cabinet instead of rolling your chair or go see a co-worker in person instead of emailing them.

Related from Entrepreneur:

5 Unhealthy Workplace Habits to Break in 2015

What’s Really Killing You (and It Isn’t Ebola)

Cubicles Were Originally Designed to Set Us Free and Now They’re Slowly Killing Us

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