For many it is hard to be more active. We spend countless hours sitting at our desks and in our desks only to come home and relax by sitting some more.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity for individuals aged 18-64. This comes out to about five 30-minute sessions a week. For many reaching this minimum is already difficult.
New research suggests that it is no longer sufficient to meet the minimum levels of physical activity to receive the benefit of reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Pate et al. compared two individuals: one that met the minimum activity requirements but spent 70% of the day in sedentary behaviors and one that did not meet the minimum activity requirements but spent only 25% of the day in sedentary behaviors. The researchers found the latter individual to have a higher average energy expenditure despite not meeting the minimum activity stated by WHO.
There are many more studies and statistics that Gonzalez et al. uses to prove the point that sedentary behavior and physical inactivity is a serious issue. The author’s main point is that besides meeting the minimum requirements for physical activity each week, individuals need to find more ways to be more active in their lifestyle.
Here are some ways to start being more active now:
- Skip the elevator: An easy way to add some steps during the day is by ditching the elevator or escalator and taking the stairs. If your stop is on the 30th floor, get out a few floors early and take the stairs the rest of the way.
- Set an alarm: There are so many things going on in our lives that it is easy to forget to be active. Setting an alarm every few hours is a great way to remind ourselves to get up and add a little activity.
- Multitask: Many of us have the habit of focusing on thing at a time, which isn’t always a bad thing. But when on the phone or watching TV, try to pace around or incorporate exercise. There are many times during the day in which we can easily add some activity.
- Have fun: Go to the park, play tag with your family members, go on a hike, etc. The list goes on. Make being active fun and watch the time fly by.
- Stop early: When taking public transportation, get off a stop early. Spend that last block or two walking to exercise those legs. You just spent a bunch of time sitting!
- Walk: When we have short distances to travel we often hop in our car for the short trip. Instead, opt for a small walk. Get some fresh air!
- Unwind: Sometimes we have so much going on in our life that we just need to unwind. Instead of your usual relaxation method, try going for a walk on the beach and clearing your mind.
- Park Far: Park farther away than you usually do to get some extra steps in. You’ll spend less time looking for a spot this way!
- Group Activities: Many people don’t take advantage of classes that their local gyms and community centers offer. You never know, you may really enjoy that new activity.
- Clean: A session of cleaning can burn up to 200 calories. Cleaning involves many different movements and can be a great way to get active. Your friends will also be impressed when they visit.
- Make Plans: Force a friend to meet up and do something active. Making plans forces you (and your friend) to be more accountable about being active.
- Garden: A great way to get active and be outside is by starting a garden. Over time many find gardening to be a relaxing and quite addicting hobby.
González, Karimé et al. “Physical Inactivity, Sedentary Behavior and Chronic Diseases.” Korean journal of family medicine vol. 38,3 (2017): 111-115. doi:10.4082/kjfm.2017.38.3.111
Pate RR, O’Neill JR, Lobelo F. The evolving definition of “sedentary” Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2008;36:173–178.