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Get Up, Get Moving

Sitting less and moving more is a good idea. You can start with 10 minutes at a time.

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For a healthier you, one of the most important things to do is get up from the chair and move. Watch less TV. Play fewer video games. Spend less time on the computer or hand-held devices. The potential benefits? A longer, healthier life.

What’s so bad about sitting? Inactive lifestyles have been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancers, high blood pressure, weight gain and premature death. Inactive lifestyles may also raise the risk of hip fracture and lower the quality of sleep.

What the research says

Sitting too much may hinder the body from taking fat from the bloodstream into the body. Having high levels of blood fats is a risk for heart disease. Too much sitting may also keep the body’s good cholesterol from cleaning plaque that builds up in the body’s arteries. That can also raise the risk of heart disease. In fact, one study showed that even if people meet the minimum recommended levels of activity, too much sitting can still negatively affected their health.

Making changes

You may not be able to change how much time you spend sitting at work or school. But you likely can decrease the amount of time sitting at other times. One area to start? Decreasing screen time. Here are some tips:

  • Track your time in front of the screen — TV, computer, handheld devices and video games. Set a screen time budget and set a goal to cut back.
  • Parents, consider keeping screens out of your children’s bedrooms.

And as an added bonus, you can use that time to be active.

Physical activity guidelines

The recommended amount of physical activity for most healthy adults is at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week. Or, you can get a similar benefit from an hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise. In addition to aerobic activity, aim to do muscle-strengthening activities that work the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) at least two days a week.

Many people worry about finding the time to meet the guidelines for physical activity each week. But you would be surprised at the variety of activities you can choose from. To meet the guidelines for aerobic activity, most anything counts as long as it is done at a moderate or vigorous intensity for at least 10 minutes at a time.

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity can mean pushing a lawn mower, walking briskly or riding a bike on level ground. Vigorous-intensity aerobic activities take more energy. These may include running or jogging, playing basketball, swimming laps or riding a bike fast or on hills.

Need ideas to get you up and out of the chair so you’re sitting less and moving more often? Here are a few to help get you started:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
  • Park farther away from buildings. Or walk or ride your bike to work or when running errands.
  • Take a walking break rather than a coffee break. You can even take your brew with you.
  • When you take a business call at work, stand up.
  • If you need to talk to a coworker, do it in person rather than by phone or email.
  • Walk or stand while watching your children’s sporting events.
  • Do a few quick activities, like squats or stretches, during TV commercial breaks.
  • Take a Sunday walk instead of a Sunday drive.
  • Try a new hobby — just make sure it’s active!

Note: If you’re pregnant, physically inactive or have a health condition such as arthritis, diabetes or heart disease, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program or increasing your activity level. He or she can tell you what types and amounts of activities are safe for you.

By John Welsh, Contributing Writer

Sources
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans. Accessed: September 16, 2016.
American College of Sports Medicine. Reducing sedentary behaviors: Sitting less and moving more. Accessed: September 16, 2016.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Tips to reduce screen time. Accessed: September 16, 2016.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How much physical activity do adults need? Accessed: September 16, 2016.

Last Updated: September 16, 2016