We’re sitting down way too much and it’s seriously damaging our health!!! Experts say that reversing this sedentary trend is as important as eating a healthy diet and getting in our regular weekly formal exercise. With this in mind lets look at easy ways to sit less, move more and why we need to…
Heres a brief outline of todays post, it’s about a 5 minute read.
- Movement versus Formal Exercise
- Why We Need to Move More
- How to Sit Less and Move More
- The Bottom Line
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Movement versus Exercise
I just want to clarify the distinction I’m drawing here between movement and formal exercise.
Formal Exercise is fantastic for you and essential to optimise your health and wellbeing. It’s something you should be doing for a short time (dependent on which exercise you are doing) around 3-5 times per week. i.e. running, gym, aerobics, competitive sport, hits, weight training…Formal excercise will challenge you above your norms. making you sweat, breathe heavily and probably increase your heart rate.
Movement is not formal exercise. When I talk about sit less and move more I’m not saying do more formal excercise as discussed above…
… I’m talking about bringing more everyday movement into your life.
Movement that will not normally make you break sweat.
Why We Need to Sit Less and Move More
We need to sit less and move more just to maintain our basic health. It is now widely agreed that not doing so causes our health to seriously deteriorate. (more on this below).
When we measure movement we tend to measure it in steps (because of the advent of fit bits and apple watches). Of course its more important to DO the movement than measuring it. This is just an added bonus.
A generally accepted prime target for most people is 7000-10,000 steps daily the lower end may be more appropriate depending on your age and fitness.
Just to reinforce, this is 7000- 10,000 steps of normal everyday movement, like walking to the toilet, moving around your kitchen, walking to the shops, around the workplace etc. It is movement not causing us to become particularly sweaty or breathless.(although it sometimes may and that’s fine i.e. stairs, hills etc)
You can’t catch up and do say 3 lots in one day by doing a big run on a Saturday and notching up 30,000 steps and thinking this is 3 days worth. It doesn’t work like that. This has to be a daily target, a daily habit.
You have to do your movement on top your formal fitness. It’s not enough to do your prescribed 3-5 gym sessions of formal exercise a week then go sit on your arse for the rest of the week. This won’t work.
Studies have found that Fitness enthusiasts who don’t get their basic movement in are just as likely to suffer the ill consequences of a sedentary lifestyle as non excercisaholics… Eating a healthy diet doesn’t save you either.
Being sedentary affects the natural workings of our body in a detrimental way.
Health Consequences of Sitting Too Much/Insufficient Movement.
Below taken from Healthline.com click to read full article.
Sitting for long periods of times — like six to eight hours a day — has increased risk of developing truncal obesity, hypertension, higher blood sugar, [and] higher cholesterol levels leading to metabolic syndrome, which then has increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from those events,” Dr. Sanjiv Patel, a cardiologist at MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, told Healthline.
That’s because when we sit for an extended period of time, our metabolic system essentially goes to sleep.
We expend less energy, which leads to a build up of energy in the form of fat, says Patel. This can trigger an increase in stress hormones, which leads to higher blood pressure and blood sugar — both of which can increase our risk for chronic diseases.
On top of all of that, when we’re sedentary for hours, our blood isn’t pumping as steadily throughout the entire body. This can cause our legs to swell up and develop both varicose veins and blood clots.
How to Sit Less and Move More
Always be looking for opportunities to move more or at least stand up.
Tracking something always makes it more fun and when it’s fun your more likely to want to do it.
Wear a Fitbit, fitness or Apple watch to track your steps and movement or do it the old fashioned way and just journal what you’ve done.
No matter what you are doing counting steps, dancing around, playing with your children walking inside or out, going up the stairs… Your watch or Fitbit will count this for you.
With an Apple Watch you have 3 rings which measure the following:- 1. formal exercise, 2. movement and 3. standing up. Your daily challenge, should you choose to accept it🤓 is to close these rings. It’s kinda fun. If it’s too easy for you your watch will automatically make it harder!
You can even connect with your friends and/or colleagues with fitness watches to compare steps and progress. See who can reach their target first. This makes the whole thing much more competitive. This may or may not suit you… Could be fun!!!
Stand up at least once per hour, no matter what you are doing. If you have Fitbit or Apple watch they will send an alert to you when it’s time for you to stand up. When I get an alert I take the opportunity to go for a short walk, just around the house if Im working on a screen, possibly look out a window at daylight. If you don’t have a fitness watch then set a timer on your phone or just use your own memory.
Stop doing lazy, time and energy saving things like:-
- Don’t park in the closest parking space so that you save yourself from walking far, park in the furthest away one.
- Dont take the car or bus, just walk or cycle.
- I used to leave things that needed to go upstairs at the bottom of the stairs so that I could take everything up in one go when I HAD to go upstairs. . Don’t do that just take the stuff up one at a time.
- Take the stairs not the lift. Up and Down. I sometimes live on a cruise ship. This is my number one rule whilst onboard. I always take the stairs, (and there are a lot of them). I start my day everyday at around 6am by climbing around 12 flights of stairs. Disclaimer:- When I have my high heels on I take the lift 🤣
- Hang your washing out on the line don’t shove it in the tumble dryer.
- Help with plastic pollution by carrying your groceries in without the help of plastic bags. You may need a few more trips to and from the car but that’s a good thing right?
- Do your work standing up if you can. If not, take standing breaks often even if very brief. Walk around too, if you can before returning to your seat.
- Get up and go talk to your colleagues about issues rather than send emails and memos.
- Have standing up or walking meetings...even better if you could have outdoors meetings. Can you imagine how much happier the workplace would be if everyone could see daylight and breathe in fresh air for a short time? Weather permitting of course…
- Drink more water = this means having to get up and get more water more often and having to take more toilet breaks. You have to walk to get to the water and to get to the toilet.
- Sit on a large fitness ball at your desk so that you have to actively balance with your core muscles. Much better than being slumped in a chair.
In the Kitchen
Kitchen Boogie – Many people spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen, prepping, cooking or cleaning. Use time in the kitchen as an opportunity to put your favourite music on and dance about whilst working. Who doesn’t like to do that?
You can also fit in the odd body weight lunge or squat. Im not talking about doing 5 sets of 5 reps here, just the odd rep. here and there whilst your waiting for stuff or you could do a walking lunge to the fridge rather than just walk. Of course make sure its safe for you to do them.
While we are on the subject of random bodyweight movements I always make a habit of picking things up from down low by performing a proper form squat or lunge. Also I have a pullup bar set up between my kitchen and hall where I might make a random attempt at a pull up every time I pass. (basically I swing on it😁 since I can’t do them without a band…yet)
If you have young children
You are lucky. PLAY with them. Children have unlimited energy, everything they do involves movement. C’hase them, crawl about the floor with them, play hide and seek, have a carry on with them. It’s such a lot of fun and the very best way to get more movement in.
The creme de la creme of sitting less and moving more. It’s the secret weapon we all have that is free, we can do anywhere, at any time, at our own pace.
Take a walk before or after work. Yes you can go for a walk in nature , in the park, around your house, up and down the stairs…
Do you have a garden? Even 10 minutes walking around your own garden, noticing nature, this counts as a moving meditation and would be so beneficial on so many levels.
Alternatively, perhaps walking with your partner and/or family spending quality time together in your own garden.
That’s taking no time at all, just 10 minutes before or after work, no travel time, no fancy stuff, no need to change clothes …Just saying!
On your lunch break (and even your teabreaks) Take a short walk. Outside is best and more fun but inside will do. Walk then eat.
On your Mobile – stand up and walk around if possible, but at least stand up, when you’re on your mobile phone. no matter what youre doing. Texting, talking, on a conference call, surfing the net, scrolling through social media. Stand up and do it, don’t sit down.
Walk or cycle to work. Save money, the environment and get heathy. What’s not to like?
Get off the bus (train, tram, tube) a stop or 2 early and walk the rest of the way to work. Or park your car around 20 minutes from your workplace and walk the rest of the way. You’ll have to walk it on the way home too so double win!
Make sure you don’t wear sunglasses. We need that early morning daylight to get into our eyes. It helps with our body’s natural circadian rhythm. That combined with the exercise and breathing in fresh outside air (even if you are in the city) will help you sleep better at night.
Stand on the train or bus to work. Give up your seat, especially if you’ll be sitting all day at the office.
Plan Weekend stuff that involves movement.
Even a walk around Ikea counts. It’s huge, has anyone logged how many steps you do walking around Ikea?
If you have children,(or even if you don’t) a trip to the zoo, a theme park, the local park all involve a fair amount of walking. A shopping trip to the town centre or local shopping mall if that’s more you’re thing, It’s all walking and it all counts.
In the summer you can also do a trip to the beach, swimming, You could play tennis, crazy golf, you could go paddle boarding, you could go on a family bike ride, a nature walk, go see a stately home…the world is your oyster.
The Bottom Line
Well, the bottom line is get off your bottom and just move around. Nothing fancy required. You will be rewarded possibly by a smaller bottom plus a much healthier and happier you.
I’d love to find more sit less move more ideas. Let me know yours in the comments section below.
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