If Netflix asks, “Are you still watching?” that’s probably a good indicator that you need to get up and move around.
Ideally you should be up and moving at least once an hour during the waking hours of the day.
“We know that the more we move, the better it is for our overall health,” said Dr. Brandon Crouch, with the OhioHealth Physician Group Primary Care practice in Lexington.
And don’t just think you’re off the hook if you exercise.
“You can be a regular exerciser and build 30 minutes of good cardiovascular exercise into your lifestyle three to five times a week and still be considered sedentary because of your lifestyle that happens those 23-and-half hours the rest of the day,” said Emily Freeman, OhioHealth Ontario Health and Fitness Center supervisor.
An example of this is someone who has a desk job and sits most of the time at work, exercises for about 30 minutes afterwards (or before), followed by more sitting at home in front of the television before bedtime.
“It is really important to try to stay active throughout the day, and most people think of activity as going to the gym, riding a bike or running, but there’s a lot of activity that we can get just by getting up and moving,” Crouch said.
All it takes is a little creativity. Here are just a few ideas:
- If there are multiple bathrooms in your home or workplace, walk to the one that’s farther away.
- If you have to make a phone call, talk standing or walking around.
- Opt for the stairs whenever possible.
- Don’t fight for the closest parking spot.
- Suggest walking meetings at work.
“You may not think that walking around the office or taking the stairs can make that much of a difference, but it really does,” Crouch said. “It can improve things like blood pressure, it can provide motivation to keep your weight stable, it helps with energy levels — it all kind of comes together in making sure that you’re staying healthy, and every little bit helps."
One in four U.S. adults sits for more than eight hours a day, according to a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Both high sedentary behavior and physical inactivity have negative health effects, and evidence suggests that the risk of premature mortality is particularly elevated when they occur together," the authors of the study said.
People who are sedentary have a greater risk of experiencing things like high blood pressure, obesity, trouble sleeping and mood issues (irritability).
“When you’re 20, 30, 40 or 50-years-old, sitting (for an extended period of time) may not seem like it’s causing you any ill effects, but later on down the road it promotes heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and it can cause mood problems — and all of that can end up leading to very severe problems as you get into your 50s, 60s and older,” Crouch said.
If you have a desk job, perhaps consider getting a desk that changes elevation so you can stand.
“That’s another great modification that could work in your favor so you’re not spending the majority of the day seated,” Freeman said of the standing desk.
Try taking little activity breaks by getting up and moving around for a few minutes at least once an hour.
Evaluate your day to identify periods of inactivity and how you can improve. One tool to help with that are fitness trackers.
There are also many activity and break apps you can use to remind you to get up and move (e.g. Stand Up! The Work Break Timer).
Whatever the activity or the motivation you need to do it, it's a good time to get going.