When you sit still for too long for too many years, problems build up. Your muscles shorten, tighten and become weak. You lose flexibility and develop joint problems, herniated discs and chronic energy loss.
On the other hand, even gentle movement gets your blood flowing and increases your heart rate and breathing, which helps your lungs. Exercise is great, of course, and it’s ideal if you could work out and move your body throughout the day. But if you can’t do anything more strenuous, taking regular breaks from sitting is very valuable.
The Walking Meeting: If you have an office job, go for a walk with your colleagues. Bring a small notebook or just dictate notes into your phone. As a bonus, movement causes increased blood flow to the brain, so you may find it easier to concentrate and think during a walking meeting — especially compared with a crowded office with too little oxygen.
The Five-Minute Restart: If you’re desk-bound, get up and walk around for five to seven minutes every hour. Refill your water glass, walk up and down the stairs or just circle around the office. Taking a short walk before lunch helps your digestion.
The Desk Jock: If walking breaks aren’t an option, at the very least you can raise yourself up several times in a row from your chair. Or stand behind your chair, hold on to the edge and bend your knees in a series of squats. Stretch your neck from side to side and shrug your shoulders.
Studies show most people think they move much more than they do. A good goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day — not all at once, but throughout the day. That’s the equivalent of about eight kilometers, which may sound daunting, but the average person walks more than half that distance in a typical day. Taking a five-minute walking break every hour of your work day would add several thousand steps to your daily total. Add in a stroll before lunch and after dinner, and you’re almost there. No gym membership required!
If you’re considering moving more, the hardest part is sticking with it long enough to develop the habit. Find little ways to reward yourself for your efforts in those crucial first few weeks and keep reminding yourself that it will get easier. Eventually, you will come to enjoy adding more movement to your life.