Learning how to work more movement into your life is actually hugely important. In fact, according to a recent study where researchers at the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine looked at the mortality rates of 54 countries and compared them with the amount of time their citizens spent sitting down, it was found that prolonged sitting accounts for nearly four percent of all deaths. That’s right: sitting too much can literally kill you. So if you feel like you don’t move enough, and maybe even if you feel like you do, now might be a good time for you to figure out how to move more every day.
Of course, I’m not saying you need to trade in your sedentary job for a more active one, because some of the best gigs (like mine) are the sit-down kind. I’m also not suggesting that you drop everything you’ve got going on to go outside and run a 5K right now — because running is hard, and it’s hot AF outside. The health risks of not moving enough are too legit to ignore, though, so it’s worth your time to learn how to work more movement into your daily routine. Especially if you (like myself) spend hours sitting with your computer every day.
Here are nine ways to work more movement into your daily life, no matter how sedentary your job is.
1. Get Up Earlier
Whether your version of "getting enough sleep" means following the National Sleep Foundation's recommendation to sleep seven to nine hours per night, or it means getting out of bed after a solid six hours, it's important to both your mental and physical health that you get enough sleep every night. That said, if you're trying to sneak more movement into your day, then it just makes sense to get up earlier, because you'll have more time to exercise — or at least, move around. I know this is easier said than done, because I hit snooze at least once every morning before dragging my butt out of bed, but I think you'll find the benefits of getting up early are worth the extra effort. Here are a few tips to get you started.
2. Cook More
Some days are so busy that cooking just doesn't seem possible, and I get that. Other days, you just need to wind down after work with some Chinese take out — and I get that, too. If you're dedicated to moving more, however, then you might want to consider cooking more often. It may not seem like you're losing out on that much activity by ordering a pizza instead of making one at home, but cooking is actually a really fun, sneaky opportunity to live a more active life. (Especially if you put on some kickass dance tunes while you chef things up.) As Everyday Health put it, "Most people don’t think of cooking as exercise, but preparing food at home certainly burns more calories — and usually causes you to consume fewer calories — than eating out or ordering in."
3. Let Yourself Fidget
If fidgeting comes as naturally to you as it does to me, then you might want to just stop fighting it. As the Washington Post reported back in 2015, research suggests that fidgeting is actually really good for your health. A long-term study which looked at the mortality rates of over 14,000 women ages 35 to 69 researchers found that, "Surprisingly, the increased mortality was only seen in the group that reported the lowest level of fidgeting." So jiggle those legs, pop those knuckles, pace your ass off during that phone call, and wiggle around in your chair all you want. Oh, and try to be patient when your coworkers, partner, and/or friends do the same thing, because fidgeting apparently equals a longer life.
4. Stretch More
In addition to being a super easy and restorative way to move more, the physical and mental health benefits of stretching are manifold. So whether you're sitting at your desk, standing in line for movie tickets, watching TV, or hanging out with your buddies, make an effort to stretch more. If you're new to stretching, start here.
5. Stand Up At Least Once An Hour
Some research suggests that standing too much can be just as bad for your body as sitting too much. So if you stand all day at work, then you shouldn't feel like you can't take a load off after-hours. If you work a desk job like I do, though, then you might want to start standing whenever the opportunity to do so arises. This could mean investing in a standing desk or a treadmill desk. It could also just mean that when you're at a friends' house and there's more guests than chairs, you might want to be the one who volunteers to stand. How you work more standing into your life doesn't really matter — just make sure to stand up at least once an hour, since that's been shown to mitigate many of the negative effects of sitting.
6. Play Pokemon GO
OK, so I just couldn't write an article about working more movement into your life without bringing up the awesomeness that is Pokemon GO. Even though I wasn't into Pokemon as a kid, I love this game as a semi-adult. It literally forces you to go for walks, it's fun, easy to play, stress relieving, and cute as hell. So if you haven't already, then you should really consider becoming a Pokemon trainer. Be alert while you play, though, because sometimes people suck.
7. Take The Stairs
If you haven't already developed a walking practice, then you might want to change that, because walking is basically free medicine. Long walks in nature can work wonders for your mental health, heart health, posture, and overall fitness level, so I would suggest walking on a daily basis. If walking every day just isn't realistic for you, though, don't despair. Even on those days when climbing the stairs instead of riding the elevator is the most walking you can fit into your busy schedule, you'll still be making an effort to move more — and your body will thank you for that.
8. Adopt A Pet Or Volunteer At An Animal Shelter
OK, so I'm not saying you should go out and adopt a dog right now just so you'll be forced to walk, and you also shouldn't volunteer at an animal shelter unless you enjoy the company of animals — because volunteering takes commitment, too. All of that said, having pets will most likely force you to be a more active person. As Everyday Health explained in their article on staying active, "Pets need activity, and actually can be your own accountability friend to get at least a short walk in daily. Even if the dog only forces you to get up and let it out without going for a walk, you will have burned more calories than if you sat in front of the television all day."
So if you love animals, you're looking for a fun way to move more on a daily basis, and you're ready to be personally responsible for the well-being and safety of another living thing, then go to your nearest shelter and adopt a pet. Or, if all that talk about committed pet parenting freaked you out super hard, maybe just look into becoming a volunteer dog walker for your local shelter. You'll still be moving more often, and you'll probably make some pups super happy.
9. Drink A Ton Of Water
It's no big secret that drinking water is good for us in nearly every way, but you might not know that drinking enough water can also force us to move more throughout our day. The thing is, if you chug water like a thirsty camel, then you're probably going to have to pee a lot. And if you have to pee a lot, then you'll have to get up from your desk/couch/bed way more than normal. So on top of being a hydration queen, drinking lots of water will push you to work more movement into your daily routine. Win-friggin'-win.
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