A weekly workout routine including high intensity intervals, spin classes, running, weight training and other sports offers us many health benefits. However, recent studies show that even if you get a solid hour or two of exercise daily, it may not be enough to counteract the effects of sitting for hours at a time. The good news is you can do something about it — right now — by simply standing up and moving.
Exercise doesn’t compensate for too much sitting
With our convenience-centered, computer-based lifestyle, today’s recreational athlete gets less daily exercise than non-athletes of the past. The average person — even athletes — spends a whopping 7 to 9 hours every day either sitting at work, watching TV, or driving.
Sitting this much puts us at significant risk for health concerns such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, increased risk of dementia, and early death, and the risk increases the more you sit.
Sitting too much also promotes joint stiffness, back pain and disk damage, digestive issues, insulin resistance, flabby muscles, and poor circulation.
Simple lifestyle changes create big strides
Studies show sitting for more than 2 hours at a stretch is unhealthy, and researchers recommend getting up to stand and move every 30 minutes for maximum benefits.
Low-intensity “non-exercise” activities such as standing and walking are more important than most people realize. They play a crucial metabolic role, account for more of our daily energy expenditure than moderate-to-high intensity activities, and offer unexpected benefits.
By getting up and about frequently and standing more you will boost metabolism, improve circulation, regulate blood pressure, keep the muscles toned, keep chronic pain at bay, improve bone health, and increase your energy and vitality.
Following are some ways you can stand up against the sedentary habits many of our jobs require.
Create daily habits to reduce sitting risks
- Stand while on the phone, at breaks, or lunch.
- Walk to communicate with coworkers instead of messaging.
- Invite coworkers to walking meetings.
- Use an exercise ball as a chair.
- Try a standing desk, treadmill-ready desk, or a high table or countertop.
- Move around for one to three minutes every half hour at work.
- Use an app or quiet alarm to remind you to take movement breaks.
- Do a few jumping jacks or pushups during breaks (great for mental clarity too).
- Walk or bike to work.
- Walk to the next bus stop.
- Stand to do chores.
- Get up and move every 30 minutes.
- Do stretching or easy yoga 10 minutes a day.
- Limit your TV/computer sitting time.
- If you watch a screen, stand periodically, and move during commercials.
Out and about
- Take the long way around.
- Walk your dog more often.
- Don’t park so close.
- Walk or bike instead of driving.
- Take the stairs.
- Plan active meetups with friends instead of sitting to socialize.
- Do chores and yard work manually.
- Drive less, walk and bike more.
- Join a club or meetup focused on physical hobbies like frisbee, birding, or dog-walking.
To help you figure out if you’re actually increasing your daily metabolic output, try using this handy online metabolic calculator.