Chairs were designed to make our lives easier, but we’ve gotten to the point where they’re actually more harmful to our health than a daily trip to the local fast-food joint. Even if you work out every day, filling the rest of your day with inactivity can eventually kill you. For example, a recent study published in the journal of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found women who sat six hours or more per day were 10% more likely to develop cancer than those who sat for less than three hours. Meanwhile, researchers at Cambridge University found physical inactivity responsible for twice as many deaths as obesity. However, taking a 20 minute brisk walk every day could reduce your risk by 16-30%.
In addition to taking that daily walk, use these 10 tips to get more movement into your day, every day.
Sitting for five minutes less every hour is a small but meaningful change to your schedule. Though it doesn’t sound like much, if you’re awake for 16 hours a day then you’ll accumulate a total of 80 minutes of additional movement a day. It’s a great start, and once you get used to incorporating that little bit of extra movement you can continue to gradually decrease the amount of time you sit every hour.
Most of us spend a pretty significant amount of time on the phone every day. Whether you’re at home or the office, make a point of walking whenever you’re on the phone. Even if you’re just pacing in your office or kitchen, keep those legs moving and avoid the urge to sit and relax while you gab.
Many workplaces understand the health detriments of sitting all day long and recognize the importance of employee health, so many offer standing desks. If your office has yet to hop on the health bandwagon, approach your supervisor to see if it’s a possibility. If not, opt for the next best thing and bring a stability ball to work with you. Yes, you’ll still be sitting, but rather than just passively sitting in a chair, the instability of the ball will force you to actively sit to maintain posture and balance.
How much time do you spend every day just waiting—waiting in line, waiting for the copy machine, or waiting for I front of the microwave? Do a few sets of squats while you wait for your food to warm, or do wall sits while you brush your teeth. Take the opportunity to increase your intensity during your daily routine gives your heart a much-needed boost. For example, when you walk, walk briskly; and bound up the stairs rather than trudging (if your fit again and attire allow).
It would be nice to never have to use your car, but that’s just not a reality for most of us. However, be sure to take every opportunity to walk or use your bike. Give public transportation a try—simply walking to and from the drop-off and pick-up points will increase your daily movement. If nothing else, go with the old standby and park as far away from your destination as possible.
If you’re watching regular TV and get stuck with commercials, pick a different exercise every commercial and bust out around 20 repetitions. Even if you don’t watch commercials, you can still do something active while you watch your favorite show— even if it’s just stretching.
Email is a fabulous tool, allowing you to communicate instantly with someone across the world, the country, or even just the office. However, rather than relying on technology to give your coworker the necessary info, get up, walk, and deliver the message in person.
What does hydration have to do with moving more? Well, it’s actually the getting rid of the hydration that’s useful. While it may be relatively easy to talk yourself out of going to the gym, it’s much more difficult to talk yourself out of going to the bathroom. Drinking the recommended 11-15 cups of water every day will ensure you’re getting up and moving on a regular basis. You can take this tip one step farther (literally), and head for a bathroom on a different floor to get in a bit more movement into your day.
Humans are creatures of habit—once we get into a routine, it’s often difficult to get out of it. Use this to your advantage and build your routine around movement. Once you become accustomed to moving more, you’ll feel off on days when you’re more sedentary than usual. Gradually work your way into a routine, adding a bit of activity in situations where that activity can be performed every day.
Whether you’re at your desk, in your car or on your couch, don’t just sit there like a bump on a log—move your body. There are many exercises that can be performed while sitting at your desk, including legs lifts, glute squeezes, heel lifts, ankle circles and abdominal bracing. Even if you’re not doing actual exercises, simply fidgeting will keep your body in “on” mode.