Skip to main content

Make movement a part of your daily life

January 6, 2022 | Healthy You | Exercise and Fitness

A man uses a standing desk for computer work

Standing, walking and other simple movements throughout the day will help improve your health.

Have you heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking?” 

It was coined by a medical professor at the Mayo Clinic, based on research that showed sitting for long periods is associated with heart disease, cancer, depression and anxiety. It is also one of the main reasons that older people fall. 

Sitting all day, skipping lunches and taking rare breaks is especially hard on your heart. According to the American Heart Association, more than 25% of American adults sit for more than eight hours every day. This slows down blood flow and the body's ability to process fats. It can also lead to insulin resistance. 

How does moving help? 

Standing and moving:

  • lower your risk of premature death, heart disease, type 2 diabetescancer, depression and anxiety
  • aid in digestion
  • prevent varicose veins
  • help maintain the health of muscles and bones

"The phrase 'use it or lose it' is so true," said April Parrott, a clinical exercise physiologist at Oregon Heart and Vascular Institute in Springfield, Oregon. 

"I see every day in cardiac rehab, people losing their ability to get up off the floor and do regular daily activities because they aren't as active as their bodies need them to be."

    Add Movement to Your Day 

    “It cannot be emphasized enough to move throughout the day. It is critical to physical and mental health,” noted April. 

    Aim to move your body every 30-60 minutes.

    Consider setting a timer to remind you to get up and move. And, no surprise, there are smartphone apps for that.

    If you have a desk job, you might like a dynamic workstation to keep you from getting too settled. A standing desk, a treadmill desk or exercise ball chair are all good options to avoid too much sitting. Research shows that people who use a standing desk have increased productivity, energy and creativity. 

    When you are just getting started, go slow, but just keep at it. 

    Commit to a Workout Routine 

    A workout routine is the most obvious way to add more movement to your day. 

    If using a treadmill gets boring, try something new. Boxing, tai chi or even ballet can be good alternatives.

    Some people swear by rebounders (mini-trampolines) for low-impact stationary movement.

    Floor exercises, stretching and yoga are also excellent ways to add movement. Many classes are offered online if you are short on time or more comfortable doing the activity at home.  They not only improve strength, balance and flexibility, they can ease back pain and arthritis symptoms. Studies show they also improve heart health and mental well-being.  

    Sneak In Extra Steps

    Think of ways to sneak extra steps into your everyday activities.

    Here are a few ideas:

    • When running errands, park your car far from the door.
    • Walk around when you are chatting on the phone.
    • Climb a few stairs instead of taking the elevator. 
    • If you work in an office, try walking meetings with a colleague instead of sitting in a conference room.  
    • When you're watching TV, march in place during commercials (or even during the show).
    • If you're in the kitchen, dance while you're waiting for the coffee to brew. 
    • Play outside with your kids or pets.
    • Clean the house.
    • Work in the yard or garden.  

    If getting started seems overwhelming, pick one small change to master first and then add others as you grow more comfortable, said April.  "It doesn’t have to be hard, it just has to be done."