Tips For Getting Up And Staying Active
One of the big headlines in recent medical news is that sitting is the new smoking, but what exactly does that mean?
After 6 million years of living as active hunters and gatherers, and more recently farmers, humans have become far more sedentary than our bodies are design for. And over the past several decades, this shift in behavior is causing a wide variety of health problems and even death. This isn’t just a problem in the U.S., either, and the NIH calls this a globesity pandemic. And 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.
So what can you do to get up and stay active? Here are three tips that may just save your life!
Take A Movement Break
One study found that taking a movement break every 30 minutes is the best way to reduce health risks of sitting. For those of us who work in offices, that doesn’t mean simply stand up, look away from our computers and look at our phones. It actually means briskly moving 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
Avoid Negative Behaviors
Even if you can’t get up and move every 30 minutes, for whatever reason, there are a number of ways to at least avoid being completely sedentary. For example, don’t eat lunch at your desk get up and go for a walk as part of your lunch break. If you commute by car, try to park farther away from the entrance to your building. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you’re on the phone, also consider standing up. When you go home, try to 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 time to move around. Consider going for a walk outside, or even walk up and down your stairs a few times if the weather isn’t cooperating.
Consider Standing At Work Or Even A Standing Desk
Whether you work in an office or have an office in your home, a standing desk may be a good solution to keep you moving. While the jury is still out about standing desks in terms of their impact on weight loss, one thing is certain: Standing desks help us maintain good posture far better than regular desks. And good posture helps us reduce back pain, maintain good blood circulation, and fewer injuries when we do more physical activities.
Now, you don’t necessarily have to invest in a real standing desk, one whose height is adjustable. You can get away with a less expensive computer stand that elevates your laptop or your computer, or even just use some thick books. To make sure your computer is at the right height, you should be able to use it while you’re standing straight up with your arms at your side, elbows bent at a 90 degree angle. Your monitor should be high enough so that you can easily focus on the top third of your screen, using your eyes to scan downwards as needed.
Or Consider An Alternative To The Chair
If a standing desk isn’t right for you, consider using an exercise ball as a chair. While it might be challenging to get the hang of at first, the act of balancing will ensure you continuously work your muscles just to stay sitting upright. You’ll be less likely to slouch and may even tone up a bit. Plus, during breaks, you can use it to do actual exercises! Just make sure it’s the right height so that your arms bent are at a 90 degree angle to type and your computer screen is directly in front of you.
There are a number of other habits you can pick up to ensure you get up and stay active throughout the day. If you think you can benefit from more activity, contact us for a consultation. Our integrative medicine doctors can work with you to develop a plan to ensure you get the right amount of movement throughout the day.