The reality of the modern working world can often mean a lot of sitting down and not a lot of daily moving. It's why knowing some creative ways to move more every day that are actually realistic and sustainable can often make a way bigger difference to our health than high-intensity exercise regiments that we give up after a couple weeks.
And new evidence has begun to show that trying to compensate for an entire day of sitting down by an hour or so of rigorous exercise doesn't actually do as much for our longterm health as simply moving in small doses more often throughout the day.
I don't know about you, but this is music to my ears. Despite my best efforts, I have just never been able to fall in love with the gym or working out. It's hard, uncomfortable, and I'd just honestly rather be relaxing (sue me!). So needless to say, the notion that I can dramatically improve my health without running suicides or spending 45 minutes sweating on a stair master is pretty revelatory, and also makes me a lot more motivated to actually make healthful changes.
If you sit at a desk all day and are looking for easy ways to move more, here are seven super easy tips to keep in mind that will definitely help.
1. Use TV As Movement Time
A Reader's Digest piece with ideas on how to move more without too much effort recommended exercising while you watch TV. This doesn't have to be too crazy or complicated — literally just marching in place can get you at least 30 extra minutes of "walking" in a day. And I personally recommend just sitting on an inflatable exercise ball while you watch, since it helps strengthen your core and balance.
2. Dance More
Dancing more is another tip from the Reader's Digest piece, and it's one that I can get behind 100 percent. The thing that I especially love about dancing is that it doesn't feel like exercise. So the next time you realize you've been sedentary for a couple hours, turn on your favorite pump up song and just let loose for a few minutes.
3. Use Your Commute To Your Advantage
Everyday Health contributor Madeline Vann, MPH, suggested using your morning or evening commute as the first place to fit in some more movement. "Park a reasonable distance from where you need to be and walk the rest of the way. If you use a parking garage, consider this strategy: Park on a lower level, climb the stairs to a higher level, and walk back down the ramp," she wrote. If you take public transportation to work, just get off a stop or two before where you would normally get off and walk the rest of the way.
4. Opt For The Stairs Whenever Possible
Vann also recommended taking the stairs over the elevator. This might seem super obvious and even inconvenient, but stairs are awesome for your leg and glute muscles and also actually get your cardiovascular system going. Also, I don't know about you, but the elevators in a lot of offices I've worked have been crazy slow, so the stairs often even ended up saving me time.
5. Take A Walk While You Take Your Calls
Health.com suggested using your phone call time as an opportunity to get out and walk. For example, if you're planning to catch up with a friend or family member, just pop in you head phones and circle the block as you talk. It's a super effortless way to get in more movement, and you'll usually be so distracted with the actual conversation that it won't seem like a chore.
6. Stand Up
In a piece for US News and World Report Kent Burden, wellness coach and author of The Office Workout: 75 Exercises to Do at Your Desk said to simply stand up every now and then if you sit at a desk all day. “Once you stand, all those postural muscles fire up. They start sucking sugar and fat out of the bloodstream to keep those muscles going,” he said. And if you're prone to getting fully absorbed in your work, set a reminder for yourself for every hour or so, or just make it your policy to always stand up when taking calls.
7. Stretch At Your Desk
Burden also recommended simply stretching at your desk, as it's good for blood flow and circulation, as well as spine health and general flexibility. The above video from YogaBody International has several great moves for stretching and loosening your body when in a seated position.
Moving more throughout the day doesn't have to mean a dramatic change to your daily routine or being that person who's always carrying a gym bag (we all know the type). There are a ton of highly effective small changes you can incorporate into your daily routine that make a huge difference to your health overall and that you can usually even do while accomplishing other tasks.