A research study titled “Prolonged Leisure Time Spent Sitting in Relation to Cause-Specific Mortality in a Large US Cohort” was published earlier this summer in American Journal of Epidemiology.  It reported that a sedentary lifestyle could lead to a higher risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, suicide, COPD, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and other chronic disorders.  Not too surprising, right?  Most of us have heard that being more active can help prevent these diseases and help us live healthier lives.  However, being more active is easier said than done for most people who have developed habits of being sedentary throughout their daily routines or feel that they don’t have time to fit in an exercise routine.  Our society’s addiction to technology has led us to a more sedentary lifestyle- people are watching television, using tablets and smart phones up to several hours per day.  Convenience and a need for efficiency has also allowed us to be more sedentary- using the elevator instead of walking up the staircase, using a riding lawn mower instead of push mower, taking the bus a few blocks downtown instead of walking, etc.  Here are a few simple tips for reducing your sedentary lifestyle and adding more activity during your day.

Tips for increasing activity during the day at home:

  • Park farther away when going to the grocery store to get a little more walking into your day
  • Choose the stairs instead of riding the escalator or elevator
  • Do exercises in your living room during commercial breaks on tv
  • Do squats, lunges or calf raises while waiting for something to heat up in the microwave or on the stove
  • Stand up to fold laundry instead of sitting down
  • Listen to books on tape while walking on a treadmill or outside instead of sitting down to read a book
  • Use a pedometer to track daily steps to help motivate yourself to walk more during the day
  • Place a treadmill or recumbent bike in front of your tv at home
  • Find a workout buddy to join you on a walk in your neighborhood or join you for an exercise class at the gym

Tips for increasing activity during the day at work:

  • Walk or bike to work instead of taking transportation
  • Use a standing desk to be able to alternate between sitting and standing
  • Sit on an exercise ball instead of regular desk chair
  • Get up and walk to the water fountain at work several times during the day instead of keeping water at your desk
  • Suggest a walking meeting with coworkers instead of sitting in the conference room
  • Do squats, lunges, or calf raises while waiting for the copy machine
  • Go straight to the gym after work instead of home so you will have a better chance of completing your workout

How much exercise do we really need?

American Cancer Society recommends that adults should get at least 75 minutes of vigorous or 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity spread throughout each week.  Children and teens should get at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity at least 3 days per week.

  • Light intensity could include housework, gardening, or shopping
  • Moderate intensity could include a yoga class, brisk walk, or mowing the lawn
  • Vigorous intensity could include activities that use large muscle groups and elevate your heart rate such as jogging, cycling, or playing pickleball

It’s best to choose an activity that you enjoy rather than force yourself into doing an exercise that you hate or resent.  Take home point for today…try to find ways to be more active!  If you have any questions about how to start an appropriate exercise program or want to know more about our Better U program, please contact us at 540.710.0100.

Article by: Kristen VanderWijst, DPT


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