Busy But Sedentary: Adding Movement To Our Day

While 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise is important for type 2 diabetes management, so is making sure the rest of our day is filled with non-exercise, or daily activity movements.

Frequent non-exercise movements such as standing, reaching, taking steps from here to there, bending, and lifting are the bedrock of a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, for many of us this bedrock has become a bit thin.

The Seat of the Problem

Long gone are the days when we had to stand and walk several steps to change a television channel. With smartphones at our side we no longer have to get up to answer a call, or order a pizza. Plus, many of us have jobs that keep us in a comfortable chair for more than an hour at a stretch.

The problem is that 40 minutes on the elliptical cannot erase all the ill-effects of sedentary day, but too much chair time may erase the good effects of our exercise. Research indicates that six hours of uninterrupted sitting, even if we are engaged in productive work, can counteract the well-being benefits of a one hour workout.

The solution to this problem is not to workout more, however—just to move about more.

Small Efforts, Big Effects

Adding non-exercise movement to our day involves making simple changes, and here are a few suggestions:

    Whenever you have an opportunity to stand and walk about, do so. We can choose to move about during TV commercials, while we talk on the phone, or while our car is filling-up with gas. If your work involves a lot of sitting, set a timer that reminds you to stand, stretch, and walk about every 40 to 50 minutes.

    Having some exercise equipment at the office - a couple small hand-held weights, resistance bands, a yoga or exercise mat - can add variety to your work breaks and get your energy flowing.

    Some people are utilizing standing desks to reduce chair time. If you don’t like the thought of working while standing, consider using a balance ball chair part of the day. Sitting on a balance ball gives you a slightly unstable base, and this forces your core (abdominal) muscles to work as you sit. You can use the ball to perform other exercises as well. Or, choose a regular chair without armrests; with nothing to lean on we tend to sit up straighter.

    Set your office up to be less convenient, so the things you frequently use - filing cabinet, supplies, printer - are not within easy reach. This will get you out of your chair many more times throughout the day.

    Grab your co-workers and get moving. If the weather permits you might hold meetings while walking outside, or recruit some co-workers to walk with you at lunch time.

Small efforts made consistently can create huge effects. Implement all the simple ways you’ve ever heard about to add steps and movement to your day such as taking the stairs instead of elevators, parking at the far end of a parking lot, or doing some simple stretches while waiting at the copier. It will add health to your years.

“What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Source: Gaiam; Mercola
Photo credit: Alan Clark

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