I think by now we all know that long periods of sitting aren’t good for our health. There are even those memes that say “sitting is the new smoking“. This is because prolonged sitting does have some negative health effects: increased risk of Type II diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease and increased risk of falling, just to name a few.
Maybe you’ve even said to yourself,
“Yes, I know this. I need to get up more often to break up all that sitting.”
And maybe you’ve wondered how to make sure that you don’t sit for too long? And then, once you’re up, what to do?
Continuing to wonder to yourself, maybe you’ve thought, do I just need to stand up and then sit down?
Do I need to move around? For how long?
What about that standing desk? Do that work?
To answer that lose last two questions-yes and no. Standing is definitely not sitting, but standing in one spot isn’t all that much better.
Research shows that just standing (or standing up) is not enough; movement is key! Research has also shown that when we get up and move, we actually become more productive with our work. Yay!
So let’s dance on into how to get you up and moving!
Awareness is key
Not all of our sitting happens while at work. Some of it happens when we’re not working-right? Maybe we’re reading a good book, or studying for a course we’re taking, or binge-watching The Witcher on Netflix.
Here are some ideas for gettin’ up and gettin’ movin’.
- Do a few heel raises while loading or emptying the dishwasher or while you fold clothes.
- If you’re watching regular TV (you know, the kind with commercials), get up and move around during the commercial break.
- If you’re streaming a show, at the end of the episode, move about for 5 minutes before you press play on the next one. Bonus: maybe there’s some really good outro music that’ll get you dancing?!
- If you’re reading, get up and move about after reading 4, 6 or 8 pages (depending on how quickly you read).
- For every 30 minutes of sitting, aim to get up and move for 3 minutes; or for every 60 minutes, move for 5-6 minutes. (see list of reminders below)
- Each time you’re about to have a sip of water, stand up to have the drink and move about.
- Take a brief walking break after each meal or snack, if you’re at home and you have a dog, you’ve got a companion!
- Stand up and move every time you check your phone for messages. (list of movements below)
- When the phone rings, stand up to answer it and keep moving while talking on the phone.
- Instead of emailing a work colleague, get up and go see them IRL!
MOVEMENT ideas FOR ALL OCCASIONS: Choose your own adventure
Choose from the list below to break up your prolonged sitting:
- Bodyweight squats
- Wall or desk push-ups
- Alternating knee-lifts
- Step touches
- Walk to the furthest bathroom
- Climb a few flights of stairs
- Spontaneous dance party
- Jumping jacks
- A yoga Sun Salutation
- Jog in place
- Whatever movement that inspires you–this is certainly not an exhaustive list.
Now that you have an idea of where a bulk of your sitting may be happening and how to disrupt it, let’s talk about ways of ensuring that you’ll get up and actually do that sh*t!
There’s an app for that
Oh thank goodness-right?
Here are some to check out. Most will just be a timer and you’ll need to decide what to do in your designated movement time (see above), but some of them give you movements to choose from as well. Pick what works for you!
- Stand up! The Work Break Timer (iPhone only)
- Stand Up Reminder – iPhone – Android
- If you’re more into games, try Standland. You can collect pets!! (iPhone only, I think)
- Here’s another game that gives you 1-minute exercises you can do. BlockFit Quick Home & Office Workout (this is a link to the Apple App Store, but if you have a different phone, check your app store). This might be needed in conjunction with a timer app.
- Desk Job-Office Health is a timer and gives you choices to do stretches or strengthening exercises. It costs $.99. (this is a link to the GooglePlay Store, but if you have a different phone, check your app store)
Getting more movement time into your day will greatly improve your overall health. You’ll get more steps in your day and maybe even make a new friend! You never know when someone else might be taking the stairs for a movement break, too! And with one of these apps from above, it can be as easy as setting the timer and having a spontaneous dance party-which is one of my favorite ways to just get up and get movement into my day. Who knows? Maybe you’ll start a movement flash mob at your office?
Be Well, ~Theresa~
- Sedentary Behavior: Emerging Evidence for a New Health Risk
- Risks of Physical Inactivity
- Standing is not enough: A randomized crossover study on the acute cardiometabolic effects of variations in sitting in healthy young men
- The Effects of Breaking up Prolonged Sitting Time: A Review of Experimental Studies
- Sitting is the new smoking: where do we stand?