Most of us have heard of the benefits of intermittent fasting. We have also heard about the dangers of sitting too much. Well, recent research shows the benefits of short, periodic movements, what I call intermittent activity. I have discussed this in detail in my book, Today is Still the Day. I suggest setting a timer to go off every 30 to 45 minutes and then doing some kind of activity or movement.
While this study used 5 minute walks, you can substitute whatever type of movement / activity you prefer. Depending on whether you are at home or in an office, I recommend things like stretches, squats, jumps, lunges, high knees, donkey kicks, and short walks.
It is no news that sitting for long periods of time has a negative impact on health. In fact, sitting for long periods of time, even if you exercise regularly, is just as dangerous to your health as smoking. One expert has called this being “actively sedentary,” which she describes as: “… a new category of people who are fit for an hour but who sit the rest of the day. You can’t compensate for 10 hours of stillness. with an hour of exercise. “
The reason these periodic, intermittent interruptions of activity are so important is this: When people sit uninterruptedly for 3 hours, it adversely affects the ability of the lining within the leg arteries to expand and dilate as needed in response to blood flow. This symptom can be a precursor to heart disease. When people divide their 3 hours of sitting with 5-minute breaks to walk once an hour, the function of the arteries in their legs is not adversely affected.
Actually, it is recommended that for every 30 minutes of sitting, you move for a minimum of one minute and 45 seconds. It doesn’t matter much what you do. The suggestions above are a good starting point. There are standing desks and even treadmill standing desks so you can get active while doing your work.
Obviously, if you work from home, you may have a bit more freedom to work through the day’s business interruptions. If you work in an office, each bathroom break can become an activity break. Walking to a colleague’s desk instead of texting or emailing is another explosive activity. Taking a walk, outdoors if possible, during your lunch break is another great way to improve your activity set.
While you may not be able to invest in an expensive desk or treadmill, you can certainly include the simple ways to increase your activity level already mentioned. I go into more detail on this in my book, Today Is Still the Day, but even sitting on a balance disc or exercise ball for a few hours out of your work day helps you engage your core muscles while sitting.
Making these intermittent activity breaks a part of your daily routine is a simple and painless way to protect circulation and heart health.
Do you get up regularly during the day and intentionally move throughout the day?