How to Get More Movement in Your Day and Improve Your Health

Do you sit for long hours at work only to come home at night, exhausted, flopping your body mindlessly on the couch in front of the TV?  Or maybe you hop on your computer to check email, respond to friends on Facebook or play games.

According to new research, sitting that much may be hazardous to your health.

A New York Times article reports:

Even if we try to squeeze in an hour at the gym, is it enough to counteract all that motionless sitting?

A mounting body of evidence suggests not.

Increasingly, research is focusing not on how much exercise people get, but how much of their time is spent in sedentary activity, and the harm that does.

The latest findings, published this week in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, indicate that the amount of leisure time spent sitting in front of a screen can have such an overwhelming, seemingly irreparable impact on one’s health that physical activity doesn’t produce much benefit.

In 2009, research conducted among children showed that those who watched 1.5 – 5.5 hours of TV have “higher blood pressure readings than those who watch less than 30 minutes.”  Is watching TV stressful?  Yikes!

The simple answer: move more during the day. Remembering to do it, that’s another story.  I’m not immune.  I get focused on a project and sit for long periods of time. Eventually my back and legs start to ache.  This new research suggests too much sitting just isn’t good for you.  You can read the complete blog post here: The Hazards of the Couch.

I found the comments more interesting than the article. Folks asking how to get more movement when stuck behind a computer all day without breaks.

You can get more movement during your day, even if you don’t have a lot of time to spare. Below are three quick tips to get you going:

Get up to go to the bathroom. Certainly your employer will allow for that. Consider taking the “long way” if possible.

Set a desk timer to go off every hour and stretch. You don’t have to leave your desk area, and for some stretches you don’t even have to leave your chair.  Just move your body a bit.  Need some tips to get you going? Check out these stretch break videos.

Get up to connect with a colleague. Does your colleague need help? Do you need help? Boss wants to talk to you?  Instead of picking up the phone or sending an email, step away from your desk and talk to them in person.

I will commit to this: working for an hour and then getting up to walk, stretch or head to the bathroom.  Will you join me?

This is your health, you have to be in control of it if you want to feel better and live healthier.  Taking simple steps to get more movement during the day in an effort to improve your health…that is feel good living.

Now, if you’ll excuse me it’s time for my stretch break.

Brainstorm: How can you get more movement into your day even if you’re short on time?

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  • Susan

    Hi Stacey,
    Tony Schwartz author of “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working” writes periodically on the Harvard Business School blog. He advises people can only concentrate in 90 minute stretches and then need to switch to something else. Why not use the 90 minute mark as a time to move around, connect with others or take a potty break. We would achieve several things at the same time.


  • Stacey Shipman

    Hi Susan – I love Tony Schwartz. Thanks for the reminder. I do find myself needing a break automatically after about 90 minutes. Thanks for your feedback.

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