Risk. A word defined by Websters as “something that creates a hazard”.
People often associate this word with certain types of physical activity.
Ok, most of the time the word “risk” is associated with physical
activity. You’re probably reading this right now thinking about
the exact physical activity that is too risky for you to do or partake
in. Lets think for a moment about the alternative, shall we. Obesity,
diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and other negative health markers as a result
of consistent inactivity and poor eating habits are slow, silent, lifelong
issues that will creep up and take control if an intentional effort to
move is not made.
Let’s think for a moment about ways that we are sedentary. Work,
leisure (vacation), entertainment (watching TV or going to a movie), or
commuting to and from work / sitting in a car for an extended period of
time are all measures of inactivity. Now, think about the time spent driving
to and from work, sitting at home watching television on the couch, sitting
at your desk, time spent eating. Add all of these up for just one day
and the time spent in a sedentary, seated position is going to surprise
you. According to the American Medical Association, prolonged periods
of sitting – for most of us this happens in a work environment –
can cause health problems and long term health issues such as the ones
How do we combat a sedentary lifestyle? By purposefully finding ways to
engage in physical activity and/or standing. Health benefits of physical
activity have been long studied and proven to reduced mortality rates,
Alzheimers’s disease, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and type
2 diabetes occurrences. Several organizations such as the World Health
Organization and American Heart Association suggest that exercising regularly
(4-5x per week) and avoiding long sitting intervals of 90 minutes or more
can improve these health markers.
So now that we know sedentary is bad and moving is good, how can we apply
this to our everyday life at work and at home in a practical way? It doesn’t
have to be extreme, flashy, or painful. Below are several applications
for different scenarios you face during the day to kickstart your movement journey.
INCREASING PHYSICAL ACTIVITY:
- Assess your current fitness level and decide what is right for you to participate in.
- Pick activity that you will enjoy doing. If you enjoy walking, walk more.
If you enjoy biking, bike regularly. If you enjoy lifting weights, do
it! You get the picture here…
- Talk to a subject matter expert on movement and exercise. With all the
fads and gimics in our world today, getting your information from a trusted,
knowledgeable source is important.
- Get started! There is no perfect time to start – you just have to
do. There will always be a reason not to do something – put those
aside and go for it!
DECREASING SEDENTARY TIME AT WORK:
- If your work involves prolonged periods of sitting, get up and move around
during the day – 5-10 minutes every hour during an 8 hour workday
will get you 40-80 minutes movement time throughout the day.
- Try walking meetings instead of seated ones. At Kirby, our employees can
enjoy our beautiful Wellness Trail and utilize this during their day.
- Use lunch breaks (full or partial) for physical activity. See Wellness
Trail comment above!
DECREASING SEDENTARY TIME AT HOME:
- Do housework such as vacuuming, dusting, or dishes. While these are not
always enjoyable tasks, they will keep you moving, active, AND you will
have your household chores done!
- Work in the yard – mow, garden, shovel snow, rake leaves, etc…
Again, not enjoyable but worth it. Do to ability and comfort level depending
on outside temps and tolerability.
- Go for a walk around the neighborhood.
- Park further away at the grocery store or shopping mall. A simple way to
get your steps in!
Implementing simple, easy ways to decrease sedentary time and seated time
in your life is a great start to improving your overall, long term health.
Remember, you don’t have to do one particular thing to improve your
health and there is not a magic potion out there that serves as a fix
all, but making conscious, informed decisions to move are going to make
a world of difference. Give it a try, you’ll be glad you did!