Americans are sitting more than ever. In 2016, the average American adolescent spent 8.2 hours sitting and the average adult spent 6.4. These numbers are significant increases from previous figures, and these sedentary behaviors are hurting our health. Research shows that spending more than six hours a day on your backside can raise blood pressure and elevate your risk for diabetes, obesity and depression. And if you suffer from chronic illness, sitting around can result in an increase in symptoms.
However, increases in sitting times can largely be attributed to an increase in office jobs in recent years, and quitting your job to devote your life to exercise is not practical. So what can you do when you’re stuck behind a desk all day? The answer is pretty simple: Get up and walk around as much as possible, for as long as possible. Instead of keeping a jug of water on your desk, walk to the water cooler and refill your cup. Instead of emailing a coworker, walk down the hall and speak to them in person. This process of moving around actually has a name, NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
A generation ago, we used to do this naturally. At work, we would walk to the mailroom to drop off our mail or to the deli to order lunch, or we would spend a Saturday wandering around a shopping mall. Now, thanks to technology, we email, place our lunch orders online and use convenient websites to have our clothing, shoes and other items delivered directly to our front door. We don’t even have to get up to answer the telephone or change the TV channel.
Below are a few easy ways to sneak more walking and short bursts of exercise into your daily life.
1. Walk and talk
Instead of sitting down with a friend in a coffee shop, grab your latte to go and take a stroll in the park or around the block. Even meetings with co-workers can be conducted on the go — and you’ll be more productive since walking increases blood flow to the brain.
2. Go mobile
We’re no longer tethered to a landline by a long coil, so walk around while you’re on the phone. You can do this in your office too.
3. Take a minibreak
Every twenty to thirty minutes, get off your computer to stretch and rest your eyes. Do this for three to four minutes and you’ll feel instantly refreshed.
4. Be exercise efficient
Exercise does not have to replace television time. Incorporate some stretching, isometric exercise or yoga into your day easily by exercising while you watch your favorite show. Not all exercises benefit each person the same way. It is important to tailor your work outs to what is beneficial for your type so you are not wasting time and energy. You can find right-for-your-type exercises here.
5. Include your family
Plan family activities that get everyone outdoors — a hike, a walk by the beach, bicycling or even walking the dog together. Institute a family game night where you play active games such as Twister. If they insist on video games, select dance- or sports-oriented games that get everyone moving.
Try incorporating these tips into your life and see how you feel!