Sit less, move more
11/6/2023 by Danielle Johnson, M.S., P.T.
Want one thing to focus on that can have big benefits to your health and wellness? Move more!
Did you know:
- On average, we sit seven to 15 hours per day.
- Sedentary jobs have increased by 83% since 1950.
- By the time kids reach high school, 63% are no longer physically active.
All this sitting isn't doing our health any good. Research suggests that excessive inactivity can be a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. These risks can be reduced significantly if we get up and move.
Adding activity can be easy and fun. Movement can be anything — sweeping the kitchen floor, taking the stairs, parking on the far side of the lot and walking, putting on some tunes and dancing in the living room, or just plain standing. Yes, even standing. One hour of standing in your day can increase blood flow and metabolism and improves focus and energy.
As Dr. James Levine, a former Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and researcher who has studied the benefits of movement says, "Don't sit when you can stand, and don't stand when you can move."
Every little bit helps and everything counts. That includes household chores and yard work. Instead of looking at these tasks as one more thing to do, consider them an opportunity to move.
"Ah," you say, "I work out at the gym every morning." That's super — keep it up.
There are amazing added benefits to moving 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.
Studies show that we move more when we have a buddy. So 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, or take a community 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, the unfortunate consequence is that 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, M.S., P.T., 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.