Over the past several decades, as more electronics flood our lives, many of us have shifted our behaviors, growing more sedentary in our lifestyle. As a result, this change is causing a wide variety of health problems and even death. And it isn’t a problem unique to Americans; the NIH is calling it a “globesity pandemic.” Additionally, the World Health Organization has declared physical inactivity a “global public health problem,” attributing approximately 3.2 million deaths worldwide to insufficient physical activity. A study of more than 220,000 adult Australians found that prolonged sitting over long periods of time increases risk of dying, regardless of other physical activities. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you go to the gym regularly, if you sit too much, you’re increasing your level of risk.
The thing is, of course, that computers and other electronic devices are so deeply embedded into nearly every aspect of our lives. It can be a real challenge to find ways to reduce screen time without causing disruptions in our work or personal lives. But if we want to reduce back pain, it’s essential that we work to reduce screen time. Here are a few tips for making that a reality.
Take More Breaks And Move Around
One study found that taking a movement break every 30 minutes is the best way to reduce health risks of sitting. For anyone who works in an office, it isn’t enough to stand up, look away from our computers and our phones. We need to take action and move around for at least five minutes, according to one expert.
Some quick exercises you can do at your desk:
- Jumping jacks
- Walk, run, or jog in place
- Calf raises
- Wall sit
Additionally, if you need to talk with a coworker, don’t just fire off an email or call them. Get up and walk over to their desk. Look at every interaction as an opportunity to move.
Adopt Movement Behaviors
If getting up and moving every 30 minutes isn’t an option, you should at least avoid being completely sedentary. In the workplace, you should consider:
- Avoid eating lunch at your desk.
- Go for a walk as part of your lunch break.
- If you commute by car, park farther away from the entrance to your building.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- When you have a phone call, take it standing up.
And in the home, avoid watching TV as the first activity you do when you get in the door. While it might be enticing to flop down on the couch after a long day of work, this is a key opportunity add movement to your daily routine. Consider going for a walk outside, or even walk up and down your stairs a few times if the weather isn’t cooperating.
Get Some Exercise!
It seems obvious that the opposite of being sedentary too much is, well, moving. But for many of us, getting exercise isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when we want to reduce our screen time. Whether it’s doing yoga in your living room, going for a walk around your neighborhood or a park, or hitting the gym, it’s never a waste of time to do exercise. This will ultimately help strengthen your muscles and reduce back pain.
Crack Open A Book
Go old school and do some light reading. Not sure what to read? Think about a movie you recently saw and liked. Chances are there’s a book that it’s based on (though it’s not always the case), which you can find on Amazon. Or pay a visit to your local library and ask for some suggestions. While reading itself is a sedentary activity (unless you read while on a treadmill), the time away from screens will likely help you feel more energized, which will help you feel more motivated to move around more often!