The more you move, the healthier you are. It’s as simple as that. Sitting behind a desk all day and watching hours of television isn’t doing you any favours – recent studies suggest that being sedentary for long stretches of time can wreak havoc on your health. The good news? You don’t even need a gym membership or a personal trainer to reap the benefits.
“Little spurts of movement can really make a difference in your fitness and energy levels,” says Phil Haberstro, Executive Director of the National Association for Health and Fitness. “Park a little farther away, take the stairs. Before you know it, you’ve gotten in 30 minutes of activity before the workday is over.” Here’s how these little steps can pay off:
It can lengthen your life.
According to a study by the American Journal of Epidemiology, sitting for long periods of time (more than 6 hours per day) can make individuals more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, diabetes and obesity-related illnesses.
Fit it in: “Try to make small changes throughout your day,” suggests Cedric Bryant Ph.D., FACSM, and Chief Science Office rof the American Council on Exercise. “Instead of e-mailing or calling someone right across the office, go take a walk to their desk.”
Rethinking technology can get you moving.
How many of you open your garage door by hand or get up to change the TV channel? These are just a couple ways technology has rendered us inactive, says Haberstro. “There’s been a great deal of physical activity engineered out of our lives.”
Fit it in: He suggests using technology for good instead of evil: “Map your runs and bike rides and use the personal coaching technology that’s out there to increase your fitness level.”
Moving can boost your creativity.
“Research shows that just seven to eight minutes of physical activity can heighten your creative capacity for about two hours,” Haberstro says. Taking an on-the-hour lap around the office might do more good than you think.
Fit it in: Bryant suggests discussing the possibility of using standing work stations with your employer. “In my experience, you’re more engaged with your work when you’re standing,” he notes.
You’ll be more social.
Get involved with your community board to encourage local governments to provide infrastructure, parks and fitness programs that promote active lifestyles, Haberstro suggests. It’s hard to go for an after-dinner walk if there’s not a safe sidewalk or trail to use.
Fit it in: Walk to your next neighbourhood town hall meeting. This is also a great way to stay engaged with your neighbours.
You’ll set an example for your kids.
The average 5-to-11-year-old spends nearly 7.5 hours a day being sedentary! Only 9% of 5-to-17-year-olds get the 60 minutes of heart-pumping activity they need each day. Chances are, if your kids see you being regularly active, they’ll follow suit.
Fit it in: Try a parent-child fitness class in your area. You’ll get extra bonding time, burn calories and save money on a babysitter.