Sedentary lifestyles have become a norm of the 21st century. According to a study published in 2019, the average American adult spends 6.5 hours – almost 30% of their day – just sitting, and this percentage has probably risen with the growing popularity of remote work.
While a desk-bound lifestyle has its own conveniences, health experts have good reason to be concerned about this trend. Inactivity increases your risk of developing medical conditions like diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.
Think of your body as a machine with many cogs: the longer you go without moving around, the more likely it is for your internal structures to get rusty with their essential functions – arteries in your heart clog up, bones get fragile, fat builds up, and blood sugar rises to damaging levels.
Metabolic problems aren’t the end of it, either – people with inactive lifestyles also suffer from weak immune systems, fatigue, poor sleep, and dull mood.
Ask yourself – how much do you really move around in everyday life? With the demands of everyday life, do you prioritise your own health? If not – we’re here to help! Here are some ways to move around the day without compromising on time:
Take The Stairs
One of the easiest ways to get some light exercise is to skip the elevator. Taking the stairs strengthens your lower-body muscles, improves balance, and gets your heart pumping blood faster and harder to the rest of your body. Stair-climbing exercises, like sprinting up the stairs or taking longer steps, also boost cardiorespiratory fitness and fend off heart disease.
Taking the stairs whenever you switch between floors can be physically demanding if you aren’t used to it. Make it a personal challenge to climb as many stairs as you can throughout the day. Your body will take time to adapt, but will eventually thank you!
Adopt A Pet
If you’re an animal-lover, adopting a pet is a fantastic way to give these animals a new home and keep yourself fit at the same time! Dogs and certain cat breeds are especially playful, needing to burn energy frequently – playing along with them during these times will help you de-stress, stay active, and nurture a bond with your furry friend!
If you don’t have the time to permanently adopt, take a trip to the local animal shelter or adoption agency as a volunteer. Offer to walk the dogs or play with them for a short, predetermined time; in this way, you get to move around, help a cute dog, and take some of the burden off shelters so they can take take even better care of the animals.
Take Intermittent “Movement” Breaks
You don’t have to set aside 2 dedicated hours for your gym trip to get exercise; taking 10-minute breaks for a quick stretch in between work is a simple, effective way to maintain consistent movement throughout the day.
Set a timer for “movement” breaks after every 1-2 hours of working, and then spend a few minutes lightly exercising, e.g., stretching, pacing around the office, or doing some walking lunges. This reduces the pain and stiffness caused by prolonged sitting.
When done regularly, these movements improve your body’s blood flow (which in turn helps combat illnesses like diabetes and heart disease).
Put Some Music On
Nobody likes chores, but they’re unavoidable. But you can make them a little more bearable by putting on your favorite artist’s music! Whether you’re tidying up the house, cooking, folding laundry, doing dishes – dancing to your favorite tunes will make chores enjoyable and burn calories at the same time!
If you really want to make a party out of it, invite your spouse/children to do some spring cleaning together and play their songs-of-choice in the background. It’s a family bonding experience and a fun way to get everyone moving!
Don’t Spend Your Lunch Hour Sitting
When it’s time for lunch, use the free hour to walk around! Instead of ordering lunch to the office, head to the deli yourself to pick it up and take a stroll outside the office building while eating. Brisk walking burns body fat, strengthens bones and muscles, boosts energy levels, and improves mood and concentration. Or if you have your own lunch from home you can make time to split up your break between eating and walking.
The longer and more frequently you walk, the more likely you are to reap these benefits! Incorporate daily walking into your lunch hour routine; this will build the habit of moving into the time you spend on lunch everyday.
Take Advantage Of Remote Meetings
If you work from home, take advantage of virtual conference calls to do some light walking.
When work meetings don’t require your video to be switched on or for you to sparse through computer files, you don’t have to restrict yourself to the desk. Most teleconferencing platforms are now downloadable on mobile phones; access the meeting room through your phone, plug in your earphones, and schedule a leisurely walk while talking to your teammates.
In fact, since walking benefits your creativity, you might even come up with some great ideas you wouldn’t have otherwise!
Find Creative Ways To Walk More
If you stay conscious of the importance of walking, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for it in your daily life. Here are some easy ways to increase your walking time:
Park far away from your destination (provided that you’re in a safe area) and walk to the entrance.
Instead of messaging or emailing, convey messages to your colleagues in person by walking over to their desks.
Carry a smaller water bottle to work – it’s lighter, more compact, and will give you the opportunity to walk to the water dispenser multiple times to refill it.
Get some groups together for a coffee walk, virtual or in person.
To Sum It Up
Don’t underestimate the importance of casual movement! Keeping yourself active in small ways throughout the day will do wonders for your health in the future. You can create opportunities to strengthen your body – and these opportunities don’t have to bite into your work time! Stay sharp, stay fit, and keep growing!