Commentary from Sheri R. Colberg, PhD, FACSM
Over time, sitting for prolonged periods starts to take a toll on the body, and can come back to haunt you in the form of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and diabetes. Thankfully, the solution to preventing (and reversing) the negative health effects of sitting, aka sitting disease, is simple: Stand and move more. The challenge, however— especially for anyone with a desk job—is to make sure movement happens.
When you're looking for motivation to move, think of it this way: Moving your body more is the gift that keeps on giving. Once you set your mind on moving more, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how your energy levels go up. You might even lose a few inches or pounds. Here, 8 tips for getting your move on:
1. Set an alarm on your smartphone for every 60 minutes. "When it goes off, stand up and walk somewhere for two minutes. Walk the stairs, got fill your water bottle, just move! Studies show that getting up and walking for two minutes each hour makes a big difference in your health," explains Nikki Glor, creator of the new NikkiFItness Walking Workout. A new study from the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that when people went from being sedentary to doing some form of light activity for two minutes every 60 minutes, they increased longevity. If getting up every hour isn’t practical, then move for at least five minutes whenever you do get up,” advises Sheri R. Colberg, PhD, FACSM, an exercise physiologist and professor of exercise science at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA.
2. Consider an adjustable desk that allows you to go from sitting to standing. Standing for extended hours might not be practical, but being able to go from sitting to standing for certain blocks of time is. If you’re not ready to invest in an adjustable desk, Nikki says make it a habit to stand during conference calls. "Work up to adding in squats and calf raises during each phone call of the day," she adds.
3. Make it a rule to take the stairs instead of the elevator if you’re going up three or fewer floors. Increase the number of floors as you increase physical stamina.
4. Invest in a Fitbit, a wearable device that allows you to track your activity. Or download the MapMyWalk app to track your steps and distance right on your phone. Set goals, such as 10,000 steps per day, and you might be surprised at how tracking devices motivate you to move more.
5. Treat yourself to a new bike, or snatch one up at a yard sale. Use the bike to do local errands, meet a friend for coffee, and to check out local yard sales. (You can always swing by with your car later to pick up bulky purchases.)
6. Stand, instead of sit, at your child’s sporting events. Save the bleachers for 5-minute breaks to revive your energy.
7. Position your home computer in a place where you can stand to read emails, check recipes, etc.
8. Watch half of your favorite TV show while standing. If it feels weird to stand while watching TV, grab a load of laundry to fold — then congratulate yourself for multitasking your way to better health.