Have you ever realised how many hours you spend sitting down each day?
Most of us drive to work, sit behind a desk all day, before we go home again to chill out on the couch. Apparently, the average adult spends 9,3 hours sitting down – and it’s slowly killing us.
Research has shown that for every hour you spend in front of the TV or computer, your life expectancy lowers by 21,8 minutes – even if you exercise the recommended 30 minutes a day.
Every time you sit, the electrical activity in your muscles immediately slows down. This causes a chain reaction of damaging metabolic effects: your calorie-burning rate drops sharply, while your bad cholesterol and blood sugar levels go up. That’s how a sedentary lifestyle increases your risk of weight gain, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
So how can you reduce your daily sitting time when you’re not able to move around all day? Even if you work in an office, or you limited energy and mobility, there are ways to lead a more active life without having to make drastic lifestyle changes.
The simplest solution is to fit several short active moments into your busy day. Have a look at some small habits you can build to move more often.
19 Quirky Ideas to Sneak in More Physical Activity
- Gently stretch when you get out of bed in the morning or do a series of sun salutations.
- Join the Morning Mile Challenge and start your day with a brisk 12-minute walk.
- Use public transport regularly. You’re likely to walk more – not to mention taking a sprint to catch the train.
- Classic tip: Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Set a reminder to get up every 55 minutes during your workday to stretch your legs. Get yourself a glass of water or walk over to a colleague instead of sending an email.
- Always stand when you make a phone call.
- Do you household chores vigorously. Speed-clean your bathroom, mow the lawn or vacuum every room in the house.
- Sneak in simple exercises when you’re sitting behind your desk, like ‘Silent Seat Squeezes’ or ‘The Seated Leg Raiser’.
- Park your car further away from your office or the supermarket.
- Popping out for a few errands? Take your bike to the shops or carry your groceries home on foot.
- Actively play with your kids or pets!
- Put on your favourite song and have a 3-minute dance break.
- Cooking a simple meal? Alternate knee bends and standing on your tip-toes (calf raises) while stirring in the pot.
- Make it a habit to go outside after dinner for 15 minutes, to ride your bike, go rollerblading or stroll around the block.
- Take 5 minutes out of every day to do a quick, intense exercise, like jumping ropes or a complete mini-workout.
- Turn watching TV into a more active pastime. Do 10 push-ups, 10 crunches and 10 lunges during commercial breaks.
- Not feeling well today? Try these gentle exercises that you can do when you’re stuck in bed.
- Instead of meeting friends over dinner or drinks, why not do something more active together? Catch up during a long walk in nature, go dancing or play a favourite sport.
- Channel your inner Rocky (or Buffy!) with a few minutes of shadow-boxing.
How will you incorporate short bursts of physical activity into your daily schedule? Which small rituals can you create to move more often?