Last August we shared some information about the detriments of too much sitting. We were at the height of the Stay-at-Home portion of this pandemic journey and lots of us had stopped moving as much as we once had in our pre-pandemic, hustle-bustle lifestyle.
Now, our lives are resembling “normal,” but we’re finding that we all still sit for too many hours each day. So here is a refresher on why we need to sit less and move more:
I am sure you have heard the saying that sitting is the new smoking, but did you know that too much time in a chair can cause cancer, blood sugar spikes, heart disease, mental health problems and even premature death. Reading that may make us want to toss the chairs out of our homes and offices, but of course that is not practical.
“An analysis of 13 studies of sitting time and activity levels found that those who sat for over eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking. However, unlike some other studies, this analysis of data from over 1 million people found that 60 to 75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a day countered the effects of too much sitting.”
So what is the answer? Our lives are very sedentary—much more sedentary than our parents’ or our grand parents’ lives. And as a result, we are a sicker society. Is there a way to fight the threat of our chairs?
Yes, there is. The answer is to get up and move.
It is really as simple as that.
Now, you definitely need to make time for other aspects of fitness like strength training, flexibility training and more intense workouts throughout the week. That goes without saying. But beyond the workout, if you want to combat the threat of sitting, it is crucial that you sit less and move more.
What do we mean by move more? It’s just a matter of getting up and walking around, taking the stairs, going to the mailbox, or visiting a colleague’s office rather than sending him an email.
The bottom line is that we’ve got to move more, and the secret is to not only increase the duration of time that we are moving but also the frequency. We need to move more and we need to do it more often.
In fact, some suggest that we get up and move around every 20 minutes. Others recommend getting up every 60 minutes.
Does this seem like it would distract you?
Actually, you probably find that you focus better and are more creative if you step back from your work twice every hour. The mind can only stay in laser-focus mode for so long before it needs to be recharged with a little rest. Taking ‘movement breaks’ will not only help your health, it will help your productivity as well!
Of course, since most of us are not used to taking frequent breaks in our work, half the battle is remembering to stand up and move. The solution is to set a timer to remind yourself. Decide how often you want to get up, and set the time on your phone, your computer or even an egg-timer on your desk. When the timer sounds, get up.
The next question becomes then, ‘What to do when you get up?’
Use the following tips and tricks (some that we shared last year and 3 new ideas) to add some life-giving movement into your day:
Hold walking meetings. Some people have found success in taking meetings outside. Walking along a park’s trail works just as well as sitting around a conference table.
Install a treadmill desk. Treadmill desks are simply treadmills with a desk attachment upon which you can place your computer, phone and other office supplies. You can work while walking at a slow speed.
Take the stairs. If you typically use an elevator to get to your office or your apartment, consider taking the stairs instead. You can also use the stairs to just get a little movement in during your sitting breaks.
Keep hand weights handy. Engaging the muscles in your upper body is a great way to get your blood moving and give your metabolism a boost.
Choose a different parking spot. Rather than choosing a close parking spot, choose one that will force you to have a good walk when visiting stores or arriving for work.
Stand up when the phone rings. Make it a habit to not take calls sitting down.
Mingle while standing. If you are used to sinking into a chair in the break room or at networking events, resist the urge; socialize on your feet.
Netflix and MOVE. Are you loving a new Netflix series or is watching “your show” a guilty pleasure–grab your mobile device and watch while you walk (or bike or elliptical) on your stationary cardio equipment.
Take a stretch break. Mobility is often a forgotten component of fitness and in order to maintain good posture, strength and function we need to move through a full range of motion with control. Take 15 minutes to do these 7 mobility moves – trust me on this one, they are great!
Try these movement break exercises through your workday – 1 per hour:
50 jumping Jacks
2 sets of 10 desk (or counter) push-ups–
Up and down your stairs 5 times (holding something heavy if you want a challenge)
50 body weight squats
Take a 5-minute walk outside
25 glute bridges / 20 bicycle crunches
10 lunges or lunge jumps on each side
It is worth the effort to find ways to sit less and move more. Your life longevity and likely your mood depends on it!
Okay – enough sitting . . . I am off to walk my pup Luna!