Sitting Is the New Smoking – Simple Ways I Move More

posted by Andrea | 04/26/2018

I recently heard someone in the medical field say,ย “sitting is the new smoking” in response to a question about our culture’s sedentary lifestyle — I instantly knew I wanted to remember that phrase.

Sitting is one of those things that seems harmless now (after all, we’re just relaxing), but 20 or 30 years down the road, we’ll finally realize how detrimental our sedentary lifestyle was for our physical health and wellbeing.

And just think how much we sit every day!

  • On our commute to and from work
  • At our desks at work
  • In meetings
  • On our breaks and at meal times
  • When we get home (because we’re tired and “just want to sit down”)
  • After the kids are in bed, scrolling through social media on our phones
  • Watching our favorite shows at night
  • At the computer until we finally head off to bed

Whether we realize it or not, our lives tend to be very sedentary (especially compared with past generations).

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Awhile back, I checked out a couple “movement books” from our local library — NOT in an effort to lose weight, but simply to learn about living more healthily.

Movement Matters: by Kathy Bowman

Move your DNA: also by Kathy Bowman

I’ll be honest, I only skimmed through each book — but I truly gleaned so much helpful and interesting information just from skimming, and (best of all) I realized I have been doing several things she suggests in her books for many years of my life. Yahoo!

One thing that really caught my attention was the concept that regular movement throughout is thought to be even more beneficial for our physical health than shorter bursts of rigorous exercise in the middle of an otherwise largely sedentary day.ย 

For example, someone who simply chooses to take the stairs instead of the elevator, do a little stretching throughout the day, and walk a loop around their neighborhood in the evening could be doing just as much good for their bodies as someone who goes for a rigorous run after sitting all day at work and then sitting all night watching TV.

This is great news for those of us who don’t particularly love to exercise! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Although I know there are many health benefits from more rigorous exercise, I also realize that fitting 30-60 minutes of cardio or strength training into each day (and then cleaning up from being all sweaty) is completely unrealistic for many people… me included.

So no, I’m not going to pressure you to join a gym, exercise every day, or even really DO all that much.

I’m simply going to encourage you to take a few minutes (literally 3-7 minutes) to MOVE MORE.

Here are a few ways I move more each and every day… no workout gear required!

Oh, and I really want to reiterate that the movements I share below are in NO WAY my attempts to lose weight — I simply want to stay active to keep my body healthy and well.

If your goal is to actually lose weight or shed inches, you’ll want to focus on cutting calories and doing more rigorous exercise (along with regular movement throughout the day).

1. I play with my kids.

OK, so I get an easy pass on this one because not everyone has the opportunity to act silly with little kids and pass it off as movement!

My kids ALWAYS want to run, walk, jump, swing, ride bikes, etc. so I’m instantly the “fun mom” if I jump on the tramp with them, chase them around the driveway while they ride their bikes and I push the stroller, swing with them, play tag, or take them on a walk.

Even if it’s just in 5-10 minute spurts of time (I seriously only last 5 minutes on the tramp!) it’s still a great way incorporate so much movement into my day.

2. I stretch regularly.

I’ve been an advocate for daily stretching ever since I played sports in college… and I almost always do several minutes of stretching every single day — often multiple times a day.

I try to stretch my legs and back well before I go to bed (I have restless legs and this seems to help). I also do a few stretches after I wake up in the morning, and periodically throughout the day if I feel like I’ve been sitting too long.

Not only do they help get my blood flowing again, they increase my flexibility, they help me relax, and they feel SO GOOD!

3. I do squats or lunges in the shower.

I know this might sound super silly, but I feel less “guilty” about taking a nice long, steamy shower if I’m moving a little bit.

So I do a few lunges, squat for 20-30 seconds, sometimes even do a few wall pushups or calf raises, all while hot water pours down my back — it’s practically like a spa! ๐Ÿ™‚

4. I do 25 jumping jack regularly throughout the day.

This is another crazy one, but several times throughout the day, I’ll simply stop what I’m doing and do 25 jumping jacks.

The kids think it’s hilarious and usually want to join in on the fun (although it often makes James cry since he can’t do jumping jacks yet!)

My jumping jacks are especially helpful during the colder months as they warm me up too!

5. I multi-task during sitting activities.

It is very rare that I just sit for the sake of sitting — I know this might make me sound a little high-strung, but I’m just not a big “sit and relax” type of person.

If I decide to watch anything on TV or Netflix, I use that time to fold laundry, stretch, do jumping jacks, or do my physical therapy exercises on the living room floor.ย If I’m working on my computer, it’s not uncommon for me work while sitting on an exercise ball. Even when I’m riding in the car, I usually flex my legs and ankle muscles to keep from getting stiff.

In fact, now that I think about it, some of the only times I just sit without movement are when I’m feeding Clara or reading books to the kids.

I’m certainly not saying you should never sit back and relax, but rather, see if you can still find ways to move during sitting activities.

6. I walk or bike most places during warmer weather.

Due to my natural quest for productivity and desire to cross things off my list, it’s difficult for me to be willing to work any time for dedicated exercise into my days (especially since I don’t enjoy exercise). Instead, I make it my goal is to walk or bike anywhere we can walk during warmer weather.

We are fortunate to live super close to the library, Nora’s school, the bank, the post office, the hardware store, the dollar store, the thrift store, our dentist office, several parks, a handful of restaurants, and even a small grocery store — so the kids and I bike or walk daily during warmer weather.

I feel good about it because I’m crossing to-do’s off my list at the same time, and the kids love an excuse to ride their bikes fast or stay back and actually walk next to me.

Coordinating a productive walk with multiple small children can be tricky, but right now, we can usually walk during Clara’s nap as she loves to sleep in the stroller, or I wait until Dave is home and go for a bike ride with the older kids.

I know I could add more to this list, but in my opinion, these are all very simple ideas almost anyone could try — no matter your age or physical abilities.ย 

Here are a few other ideas I don’t personally do right now — but they might get you thinking:

  • take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • park at the far end of the parking lot so you need to walk further
  • stop your cab a few blocks from your destination if the weather is nice
  • walk laps around your office during break or lunch
  • if you have an office job that requires lots of sitting, set your timer to beep every hour and use that alarm as an opportunity stand up, stretch, and move for a few minutes
  • ask for a standing workstation at work (or put one in at home)

Even if you have no desire to exercise, there are still plenty of ways you can move more.

How do YOU move more?

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Filed under: FamilyHealth

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26 comments

  1. Jennifer

    04/27/2018

    Love this post! I am lucky to be a kindergarten teacher– I am moving almost non stop for 5 hours M-F. When the kids have a “brain break” dance video I try to dance along with them. Having a job like this makes it easier than when I had a desk job years ago. With summer coming I need to incorporate some of your ideas– I sometimes gain a little weight in the summer.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — you are a special lady! Good for you for moving so much during the year! And honestly, I often gain weight towards the end of the summer because it’s too hot and humid to do anything. You’d think I’d lose weight from being more active and outside with the kids, but we end up sitting inside most afternoons in August and September when it’s too hot to be running around outside!

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  2. Jennifer

    04/26/2018

    I am so excited to know that I am not the only dork who does exercises in the shower. Ha ha. Some other dorky things I do to stay active while with my son most of the time: Stand on my toes while cooking or washing dishes in my galley, do lunges to where my son is hiding when we play hide and seek on the dock and squats while he counts before he comes to find me, do glute squeezes while sitting and playing games with him, driving, etc., salsa dance while brushing my teeth or blow drying my hair (so good for the waistline!!), jumping jacks behind him on the swing….goodness Iโ€™m just always trying to sneak in little workouts. Iโ€™m teaching him to surf and that is quite a workout pushing him into waves. As Iโ€™ve gotten older, it has to be mixed in the fun more Iโ€™ve realized. I have no interest in long workout sessions anymore, and they truly arenโ€™t necessary unless you want to be a body builder. Itโ€™s all about being healthy and able to do what you desire. Youโ€™re right on that!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I’m happy to know I’m not the only one who uses my shower time for double-duty as well ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. Lauren

    04/26/2018

    My $9 Jawbone UP from Amazon has helped me add more steps! Even talking on the phone I walk or just walk around while my kids are playing on the driveway.
    I looked a little silly getting my last 75 steps in last night walking around in a dark house in my pajamas but I wanted to get to 100%!
    I also love that it is a clip so I can clip it on my bra instead of wrist.

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  4. Sarah

    04/26/2018

    Haha, the trampoline had my eyes widen too – good going Andrea!

    I set the background picture on my office computer screens to change image every 30 minutes as a way of keeping track of productivity – time flies when I’m engrossed. I also use it as a nudge to get up and move or stretch out, otherwise I can sit still for far too long and my back gets stiff.

    Great article thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

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    Andrea Reply:

    Well that’s a clever idea with the background of your computer screen! That would be good for me in the evenings when I do most of my computer work.

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  5. Bonnie'sMama

    04/26/2018

    Yes to the FitBit! My sweet husband gave it to me for my birthday (he knew I wanted one) and I’m amazed at how it has changed my activity level. It seems so silly, but for me, that feedback of knowing how many steps I take in a day and setting goals really motivates me to move more. I also have several friends with FitBits, and we compete with each other a lot.

    I know it’s not what FitBit says to do, but I wear it on my ankle instead of my wrist. I have young children. I’m generally carrying something or someone as I walk around the house, so the steps don’t register if it’s on my arm. On my ankle it’s out of the way, and I walk in place a lot for even more steps as I wash dishes, iron, cook, and fold laundry.

    The FitBit also tracks moderate exercise. If I push myself to keep moving while I put away dishes or tidy up, it often counts as exercise! Vacuuming is another activity that counts. I’d much rather move a little faster while caring for my home and get my exercise in that way.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Exactly! I’d much rather move cleaning my home or doing yard work than more traditional forms of exercise!

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  6. Alissa

    04/26/2018

    I have my FitBit set to beep if I don’t get 250 steps in per hour from 8am to 6pm. I don’t get all of my steps in all the time, but it is a good reminder (and it makes me more aware). I think this is one of those things that is impacted by sleep and hydration. The more rested I am, the easier it is to chase my kid around the yard, instead of sit and half-doze while watching him play (I keep an eye on him, but close my eyes every so often).

    We recently moved to a small town and live pretty close to “downtown”. I LOVE being able to walk to the library, post office, bakery, school, park, and hair salon.

    Thanks for the creative ideas. I may have to try to jumping jacks.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Don’t you just love living in a small town! We LOVE being able to walk to everything!!!

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  7. Jen

    04/26/2018

    One other great way to ensure you’re moving throughout the day: get a dog “for the kids”. That fun will last about 2 weeks (or they’ll graduate and leave!), and you’ll be the one walking the dog! LOL! I can be assured of two good walks a day.

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh, and no dog… yet! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    Alison Reply:

    Yes, this is a great strategy. Get a large active puppy and you’ll either walk him/her or pay for it later. Getting a dog has been the single best thing I’ve ever done for my own fitness consistency. I walk our dog 4 miles every morning rain/snow/heat, etc. My husband takes the night shift and gives her 2 more before bed. Sometimes my son takes her out for 2-3 during the day. She’s spoiled, but we are healthier because of it.

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  8. Jen

    04/26/2018

    Yet another thing we have in common! I have terrible restless leg syndrome that has gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. My dad and grandmother had it too and so does my sister-I’ve heard it’s genetic. Either way, I would encourage you to get on meds if it really bothers you. I take generic Pramiprexole, and I often say, I would do whatever I had to do to keep taking it. I started with a very low dose and was able to do that for many years. I’ve recently had to double that as I’ve gotten older, but it works wonders. I wouldn’t want to live without it! My RLS is different in that it bothers me most in the afternoons so I take it then each day. It’s not expensive and there aren’t any major side effects. It’s so worth it! Just something to keep in mind for the future!

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    Andrea Reply:

    so basically we’re the same person… minus the fact that you use a label maker ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also, my restless legs really don’t bother me that much anymore (as long as I do the stretching). And yes, my mom and grandma both have it too! I think my grandma takes medication… maybe my mom too. I’m sure the meds will be in my future — I’m definitely not against using them, I just don’t have it that bad right now (it’s always worse when I’m pregnant so I feel great right now!)

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  9. Rhonda

    04/26/2018

    I adopted this mentality after my first kid was born. It’s hard to fit in your typical 30-60 minute workout, and some might argue that it’s less natural for humans (ie, we should be able to run from danger without getting too winded, but is it really that important to be able to run a 10K?) I try to fit in 10-minute walks at work on break time, do a squat hold while brushing teeth, play around with kids (shoot hoops, run around outside, do yoga or acrobatic-type activities with them (“airplane” with them up in the air on my feet), take short walks with them and pull one in a wagon while walking our dog.

    I’ve attended various yoga classes the past 15 years, and although I love the class setting and seeing the same folks week to week, it’s sometimes hard to get it in (with where I live, it’s at least 15 minutes each way of travel time) – so recently I’ve started using my Shiva Rhea videos, where you can do just 20 minute segments. I’ve found it more beneficial to do that on a daily basis rather than one (longer) class per week. I’ve struggled with varicose veins and lower extremity swelling since pregnancies, and I find that the short amount of yoga to start the day has a lasting effect throughout the day (it seems to increase my circulation enough for my legs not to swell much!)

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    Andrea Reply:

    This is the most practical approach to exercise I’ve ever heard! Yes, of course, we really don’t need to be able to run a marathon, just away from danger if it occurs ๐Ÿ™‚

    And yes, I have a feeling I will look to online videos if I ever get to the point where I want to incorporate more exercise into my daily routine. No need for me to waste time driving back and forth!

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  10. Annette Silveira

    04/26/2018

    Iโ€™m excited to see the creative ways your readers add movement into their days. Playing/taking walks with my granddaughter, making extra trips with laundry instead of one trip with the whole basket, and parking far away are some of ways I get mine.

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  11. Jen T

    04/26/2018

    I have to ask…how can you jump on the trampoline after giving birth four times?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I guess I never really thought of that. More, my lungs can only handle 5 minutes ๐Ÿ™‚

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    Katherine Reply:

    hahaha- I totally thought the same thing:)

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    Jenny Reply:

    Kegels, ladies!

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  12. Ann

    04/26/2018

    I want to know which nightly stretches help your legs! I was awake from 3-4:30 this morning because of my restless legs. I have meds I can take but hesitate to get up in the middle of the night on a regular basis to take them.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I don’t have specific ones I do every day — just mix it up with general hamstring, calf, and lower back stretches.

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    Annette Silveira Reply:

    My mom swears by raising up on her tip-toes to relieve leg cramps. She does it during the day for prevention, not during the night when they strike. I wonder if it would help for restless legs?

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