It’s too easy to spend most waking hours sitting, with studies showing that some people spend an enormous 11 hours per day on their bottoms. Those hours tend to be clocked up working at a desk job, commuting to and from work, watching television, or at the computer. Whatever the reason, research shows that too much sitting isn’t good for health or energy.
Even if you are in the small proportion of people who do the recommended amount of at least 150 minutes of exercise per week (preferably a combination of walking —just being mobile —muscle-building resistance training, stretching and breath-focused restorative practices), you still need to move more regularly throughout the day. In other words, it is the sitting itself —not necessarily a lack of exercise —that adds to the undesirable impact on energy and specific health parameters. We also feel much better when we spend less time sitting. With this in mind, here are 10 suggestions for how you can incorporate more movement into your day.
1. Take the stairs
How often do you take the elevator or the escalator instead of the stairs? While they do get us there faster, elevators and escalators rob us of the opportunity for a little extra movement. Where possible, take the stairs and relish the burn in your thighs knowing it’s helping you to maintain or build vital muscle.
2. Stand at your desk
Set your work desk up as a standing station or invest in a desk that goes between the two so you can do both. If this isn’t an option for you, aim to get up and walk around for a few minutes every hour so you’re not sitting for such long stretches at a time.
3. Park further away
Do you try to get as close to the entry of the shops as possible? Parking further way is a great opportunity to add more incidental movement into your day. Plus, you’ve often got your pick of the parks!
4. Include more stretch
Use your chill out or waiting time to incorporate some stretching into your day. You could stretch while watching television or while waiting for the kettle to boil. It will increase your flexibility while also helping your body to relax – the perfect preparation for bed.
5. Take walking meetings
If you need access to a whiteboard or PowerPoint presentation, meetings are best suited to an office. Yet consider whether you could take others outdoors. Recent research suggests that walking may enhance creative thinking so you may find them more productive than their traditional counterparts.
6. Walk or cycle short distances
Try to avoid driving where you could easily walk or cycle. If you catch the bus or train, consider jumping off one or two stops early and walking home from there.
7. Use a shopping basket instead of a trolley
If you’re going into the shops for a few items, use a basket instead of a trolley. The extra weight will help you to build and maintain muscle mass.
8. Find a type of exercise that you enjoy
Could you take up rollerskating, cycling or surfing? Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym if that doesn’t interest you. Think about other ways you can move that you will want to keep doing. You might also like to think of any gardening, farm work and household chores you do as contributing to your movement. Did you know that how you think about exercise (not just the exercise it itself) also impacts on how it affects you?
9. Meet friends for a walk
Instead of going to the local coffee shop, meet a friend for a walk so that the time spent chatting is also time spent moving.
10. Walk to your colleague’s office
Instead of emailing or calling a colleague, take a quick walk to their office. You will most likely enjoy the short break from your desk and it will often get your query answered much faster.