Sitting too much isn’t the same as moving too little!
Surprising results from recent studies indicate even if you head to he gym every morning, sitting at your desk all day can have a negative impact on your health!
Among people who exercise regularly, those who sit most of the day have larger waists and higher blood pressure, blood sugar, and lipid levels than people who don’t. People who sit in front of a television for 3 or more hours per day show similar weight and test results whether they exercise or not!
That’s right! Uninterrupted sitting can undo all the good work of healthy activity!
What should you do?
Brief activity breaks throughout the day can make a huge difference. Dr. Toni Yancy, Professor at the UCLA School of Public Health, shared some insights during her presentation at the Illinois Women’s Health Conference:
- 3 minutes make a difference: Taking a 3 minute break to stand up, stretch, walk around, or otherwise move can have a significant impact on your health. Ten 3 minute breaks during the day lowers triglyceride levels as effectively as a 30 minutes session.
- Move before you eat: An activity break before lunch leads to healthier choices.
- Move to drink more water: Drinking water has many health benefits, but most Americans don’t drink enough – perhaps because we don’t move enough to want it!
- Get more than 8: On average, Americans get 8 minutes of physical activity per day! Think about it – just three short activity breaks (3 minutes each) could double that number.
- 10 for 4: When planning a conference or meeting, event planners should schedule 10 minutes of physical activity for every 4 hours of meeting time. This will not only protect attendee’s health, but also improve their ability to process and retain the information. (The Illinois Women’s Health Conference did an excellent job with this. Yoga in the morning, Zumba in the afternoon, a pedometer contest, and lots of active participation in sessions!)
- ROI: Companies such as LL Bean have seen decreases in employee injuries, absences due to illness, and health care costs after implementing a planned activity breaks. Breaking up the day also increases productivity, creativity, and profitability.
What does an activity break look like?
- Get up when you can: Stand up and pace while talking on the phone, have a walking meeting, or go have a face-to-face conversation rather than sending an email.
- Use your chores: Simple household chores like vacuuming, sweeping, washing dishes, folding and carrying laundry count! Improve your health while watching your favorite program – and get your house clean too!
- Expand activities:
- Park farther away or take a lap around your building before you start work.
- Walk the halls at break time or at lunch. (However, you must keep going – don’t stop to chat. Pretend you are on the West Wing and walk & talk)
- Settle into the evening with a quick walk around your neighborhood.
- Extend activities such as unloading groceries by carrying one bag at a time.
- Take a “victory lap” around the office at the end of the day. Wishing everyone a good evening might buy you some good will as well!
- When traveling, walk to the end of the concourse and bac
- Try something new: Instant Recess has fun dance based activities on video to try.
Finding ways to fit short bursts of activity into your busy day will make a big difference in your health.
Looking for ways to improve the health of your workplace? Contact Eliz and start planning a wellness program that really works!
Planning a meeting or conference? Contact Eliz for activity break ideas!
Eliz Greene works busy people to improve heart health, so they can work well, feel better, and stress less.
She is a heart attack survivor and the author of the Busy Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Heart as well as 3 other books on wellness. She writes one of the top 50 health and wellness blogs and is a sought-after wellness & stress management speaker.
If you are planning a women’s wellness program, workplace wellness program or programs for healthcare professionals check out EmbraceYourHeart.com to see if Eliz would be a good fit with your organization.