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Get Up, Get Moving

You may already know the importance of moving more. But sitting less? Turns out it’s not so good for your health.

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Looking for ways to boost your health? Start by making time to sit less and move more. That might mean watching less TV, playing fewer video games or spending less time on the computer or device. The potential benefits? A longer, healthier life.

So 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 affect their health.

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 might be surprised at the variety of activities there are to choose from. To meet the guidelines for aerobic activity, most anything counts. Just try choosing activities you enjoy— you’re more likely to stick with them!

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, heavy gardening, swimming laps or riding a bike fast or on hills.

Start small and go from there

Need ideas to get you up and moving? Here are a few simple steps to help you sneak in some activity:

  • 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!

Learning why healthy changes matter can give you the mindset for making those changes happen! Take it a step at a time and find small ways to add more activity into your day—and more time investing in your long-term health.

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


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018 physical activity guidelines for Americans. Accessed November 16, 2020.
American College of Sports Medicine. Reducing sedentary behaviors: Sitting less and moving more. Accessed November 16, 2020.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How much physical activity do adults need? Accessed November 16, 2020.

Updated November 17, 2020