By now you’ve probably heard that sitting can cause health complications and even shorten your lifespan. If your boss won’t spring for an office full of treadmill desks, you can still stay fit by finding other ways to spend more time on your feet.
A recent study found that walking for just 2 minutes each hour can make a big difference. That’s good news for the 80% of Americans who find it difficult to keep up with the minimum amount of exercise experts recommend. For example, the American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise.
There are many practical ways to overhaul a sedentary lifestyle. Try these suggestions for brief walks and other ideas to spend less time sitting.
Benefits of Sitting Less
- Strengthen your heart. Sitting down slows your circulation and speeds up muscle loss, both of which take a toll on your heart. On the other hand, physical activity helps to prevent heart disease and even reverses some risk factors.
- Avoid illness. Prolonged sitting has also been associated with diabetes, cancer, and other conditions. A daily walk could mean fewer doctor visits and longer life.
- Lose weight. Naturally, you burn more calories jogging than lounging on the couch. Think about how much better you look and feel when you stay trim. Plus, exercise is safer than crash diets that may not provide essential nutrients.
- Enhance your mood. Sitting affects your mind as well as your body. Boost your spirits with a gentle workout. You’ll probably find yourself thinking more clearly too.
Suggestions for Two-Minute Walking Breaks
- Break up tasks. Divide your assignments into 60-minute segments. That’s about as long as most adults can concentrate, so you may even increase the quality of your work.
- Create triggers. If you still tend to lose yourself in the flow, develop signals for when to stand up. Maybe you want to program an alarm on your computer, or time yourself according to your favorite radio news program.
- Engage in other light activities. Any gentle task can be substituted for walking. Tidy up the break room or do a few legs raises. If you’re at home, you could weed the garden or dance a few steps.
Other Ways to Reduce the Risks of Prolonged Sitting
- Exercise regularly. While a two-minute walk is a good start, there are advantages to additional exercise. More intense workouts will condition your cardiovascular system, thicken your bones, and sharpen your mind.
- Eat a balanced diet. Studies show that adults who sit more, snack more. Try drinking a glass of water or tea to curb your appetite. Prepare healthy food you can nibble on anywhere, like yogurt or peanut butter on apple slices.
- Stretch your hips and back. Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spine and hips. Stand up and stretch every hour. Bend forward keeping your torso close to your legs. Raise one leg, bend your knee, and gently press your leg across the front of your body.
- Turn off the TV. Do you sit in front of the TV after sitting at your desk for eight hours? Visit the gym or go out with friends instead.
Hold onto your desk job while you take care of your body and mind. Strategic breaks and other healthy habits will help you live a longer and more active life.