In our culture, sitting is common practice. We sit in the car, all day at work, and around the house. Sitting too much affects your physical and mental states. It can create a bad habit that can lead to health problems.
There are things you can do to break this pattern and create a new, active routine. Technology even helps plan and track your movement, if you own a fitness tracker or smartphone with apps. The more steps you take, the healthier you are. Moving more and sitting less is part of an overall improved lifestyle. Being active helps you eat, sleep, and think well.
Path to well being
The first and easiest way to increase your movement is to stand and walk more. Standing stretches your legs and improves your posture. On average, it burns 50% more calories than sitting. Walking is free exercise. Statistics show that walking as little as 30 minutes a day provides heart health benefits.
If you already are active at work, home, or play, then you’re ahead of the game. If not, check out these practical tips to get you moving more and sitting less. As with all new routines, start small and slowly increase the levels of time and effort. You can use devices or apps to help remind you to move and track your movement.
Be more active at work
- Schedule meetings to walk rather than sit at a table.
- Walk to a colleague’s desk to talk, instead of calling or emailing them.
- Carry a small, reusable bottle or cup and walk to the break room to fill it up. This gets you active and also forces you to drink more water.
- Use the bathroom that is farthest away.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Join or create a work recreation team.
- Be part of an office weight loss program or steps challenge.
- Go for a walk or get a workout in over lunch to break up your day.
- If available, invest in a stand-up or convertible desk. If not, use a large exercise ball as a chair. Stretch and move at your desk throughout the day.
- If available, use a walking workstation. This is a treadmill that you can attach your laptop to.
- If you travel for work, plan ahead. Use the hotel fitness room or pack your own equipment.
Be more active at home
- Prepare and cook dinner at home, instead of ordering in or eating out. This gets you moving and also helps you eat healthier.
- Take your dog(s) for a walk instead of letting them out in the backyard.
- Walk or ride your bike to the store, instead of driving or sitting in the car.
- If you have to drive, park at the back of the parking lot so you have to walk farther.
- Make household chores a fun activity. Have a friendly contest to see who can complete them fastest.
- Limit time on the TV, computer, and video games.
- Go for a walk before or after a meal. It increases blood flow and boosts your metabolism.
- Stand up or walk around while you’re talking on the phone.
- Invest in basic exercise equipment for the home. Stretch on a mat, lift weights, or do cardio exercises while watching TV.
Be more active at play
- Go to the public park on the weekend. Some parks also have free tennis courts and water parks.
- Find an exercise partner that you can rely on.
- If you don’t belong to a gym, do basic exercises at home or work out to a TV fitness program. You also can go walk for free at an indoor or outdoor mall. Some YMCAs even offer scholarships.
- Participate in community service.
- Schedule events and trips with family or friends that promote movement. These include hiking, dancing, bowling, skiing, or group sports.
- If you’re at the pool or beach, join in games instead of lying out. Some cities and schools have public pools or free passes.
- If you’re golfing, walk the course instead of getting a golf cart.
Things to consider
There are many benefits to adding regular activity to your day. It helps to clear and refresh your mind, and improves your mood. It promotes healthy eating habits and boosts your energy. Once you start, you might be surprised at how much more you’ll want to move.
Remember to continue your new forms of activity. This will help create a routine that is easy to follow and remember. Also, if you set goals and plan ahead of time, you are more likely to succeed.
It also is helpful to keep track of your activity. This lets you know what works and helps you reach your goals. An important part of the process is celebrating you milestones.
When to see your doctor
If you have known health issues or conditions, talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. Seek medical care if a pain or problem occurs.
Questions to ask your doctor
- Are there any risks to being more active?
- What types of exercise are best for me?
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.