This week, I am celebrating movement. After being sick for over a week, I finally got moving again two days ago with some boot-camp style workouts at my local gym. Since I work from home, I typically have the freedom to go to the gym workout at home. I know not all of you have that same benefit when you are busy with kids at home or at the office. So, let’s review ways to get moving without formal exercise classes or workouts.
How much do you walk throughout the day? Have you ever measured your steps with a pedometer? I highly recommend giving one a try. I was pretty good about using mine last summer, but I slacked for a while and I know I am sitting at my laptop and NOT moving too often. So, I’m taking my pedometer out today to see how much I move in my average day. Hopefully it being on my hip will remind me to get away from my desk and walk a bit more often. I’ve even configured a stand-up laptop station so that I’m off my booty for more of the day too.
Anyway, I’m blathering on a bit, the main point I wanted to make was about the benefits of walking. Some folks think it’s fine to sit nearly all day and have a burst of fitness in one workout maybe 3 times a week. While this is better than nothing, it’s not enough, not by a long shot.
Researchers are beginning to suspect that even if you engage in regular exercise daily, it may not be enough to counteract the effects of too much sitting during the rest of the day. According to a recent article on NPR.org:
Epidemiologist Steven Blair, a professor of public health at the University of South Carolina, has spent 40 years investigating physical activity and health.
“Let’s say you do 30 minutes of walking five days a week (as recommended by federal health officials), and let’s say you sleep for eight hours,” Blair says. “Well, that still leaves 15.5 hours” in the day.
People who regularly break up their sedentary time with movement had healthier waist circumference, body mass index (BMI), and triglycerides than people who didn’t take breaks during long periods of sitting. That’s what Australian researchers found in a 2008 study.
But how to make a habit out of taking breaks? Toni Yancey’s Instant Recess book offers the following suggestions for people who feel chained to their office desks:
- Take a 10-minute activity break at a scheduled time every day.
- Park farther away from the places where you work, shop, play, study and worship
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Put printers a short walking distance away from your work or study space instead of right next to it.
- Replace desk chairs with stability balls — or use a standing desk to get rid of the chair entirely — to burn more calories while working.
- Fidget, stand up and stretch at intervals during meetings.
Consider adding a measurement tool like a pedometer to really help you know how much movement you are getting. Start a challenge in your office where a group shares their daily steps. Creating a healthy competition can be another great motivator. What other ideas do you have? Share them!