Wake up, drive to the office, sit behind the computer, drive home, sit for dinner and then relax on the couch until bedtime. Sound familiar?
Modern living has engineered movement out of our lives. Most activities require similar motions such as sitting or reaching in front of us for the keyboard or the steering wheel. This behaviour pattern is vastly different compared to that of our ancestors, who lived without the modern conveniences of cars, grocery stores, and washing machines from which we have outsourced much of our movement.
You may have heard, “sitting is the new smoking.” According to Biomechanist Katy Bowman, “while ‘being sedentary’ is often assumed to mean the opposite of ‘being an exerciser,’ sedentarism is determined by your most frequent behaviour – not by brief periods of your most intense.” Exercise is a great and necessary component to healthy living, but it’s not the entire picture. For those who detest traditional exercise, this is actually great news. The path to health doesn’t merely exist in the hour-long gym sessions but is rather the culmination of movements throughout the day. Moving more frequently, and in a variety of ways, keeps the various muscles of the body conditioned, which is important to maintaining health.
According to Dr. Beth Frates, who directs wellness programming for the Stroke Research and Recovery Institute at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital “long stretches of uninterrupted sitting have a range of undesirable effects that may harm your heart.” Research has shown that prolonged sitting increases risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. However, getting up periodically can offset some of the risk factors, making increased movement the key to maintaining good health. You don’t need to overhaul your life to get more movement. Instead, try incorporating motion into your current daily routine.
Consider the following tips to increase movement into your life:
1. Get up every hour. Set an alarm to go off every 60 minutes and stand up, stretch or grab a glass of water.
2. Move while you watch TV. Periodically stand up, march in place, do a few stretches or body weight exercises to get your circulation flowing, and your metabolism up.
3. Walk or bicycle instead of taking the car for short distance trips – or park further from your destination to incorporate more movement into your day.
4. Walk while you catch up with friends and loved ones. Meet for a walk instead of sitting at a coffee shop, or get up and walk while catching up on the phone.
If you read this while sitting down, get up and go for a walk. Making seemingly minor adjustments can add up quickly!