Employee & Community Health

Sit less, move more

8/17/2017 by Danielle Johnson, MPT

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We've become a nation of sitters - and so have our kids. We sit on our commute to work, we sit at our desks, we sit at meals, we sit watching our kids' sports activities, and we sit in front of the TV or computer when we get home. According to study results gathered by juststand.org

  • On average, we sit seven to 15 hours per day. 
  • Sedentary jobs have increased 83% since 1950. 
  • By the time kids reach high school, 63% no longer are physically active. 

All this sitting isn't doing our health any good. Research has uncovered that excessive sitting is a risk factor in four of the leading causes of death in the U.S.: heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. These risks can be reduced significantly if we just get up and move. 

Oh no, you think. Here comes another lecture on exercise. I hate the gym! But this is not about working out, it's about moving more. 

That movement can be anything: sweeping the kitchen floor, taking the stairs, parking at the far side of the lot, putting on some rockin' tunes and dancing in the living room, or just plain standing. Yes, standing. One hour of standing in your day increases blood flow and metabolism, burns more calories and improves focus and energy. 

As Dr. James Levine, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and researcher who has studied the benefits of movement, says, "Don't sit when you can stand; don't stand when you can move."

Every little bit helps and everything counts! That includes household chores and yardwork. Instead of looking at them as one more thing to do, consider them as an opportunity to move. 

Ah, but you say, I work out at the gym every morning. That's super - keep it up! Unfortunately, it's not enough. You still need to move consistently throughout the day. This does not need to be complicated. Look at your day and ask, "What movement can I do for 10 minutes?" Work movement into your day, no matter where you are. Here are a few ideas to get you started: 

  • Stand, rather than sit, in a meeting or at your child's soccer practice. 
  • Vacuum the living room. 
  • Go for a walk, taking a slightly hillier route to challenge yourself. 
  • Sweep the walk. 
  • Play with your kids: shoot baskets, play catch, splash in the pool, go for a bike ride - it's limitless. 
  • March in place while you're doing the dishes. 
  • Do some lunges or squats by your desk. 

So that you don't feel like an odd duck, create a community of movers around you. Find someone who would like to go for a walk over lunch, stand at the back of the room with you, share gardening chores, take a community ed belly-dancing or tai chi class. 

For every modern convenience we've added to our lives - whether it's a washing machine, riding lawnmower, grocery delivery service or TV remote control - we've removed opportunities for consistent, informal movement from our daily lives. And now we're seeing the ramifications on our health. But those consequences can be reduced if we just get up and MOVE! Go for it!

See some easy activities for adding movement into your work day. 

Danielle Johnson, MPT, is a wellness physical therapist at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program in Rochester, Minn. She specializes in combining physical therapy with whole-body wellness and integrating fundamental and natural movement patterns, as well as practical and playful movement, into daily experiences.