Make intermittent activity a new healthy habit
Most of us have heard of the benefits of intermittent fasting. We’ve also heard about the dangers of sitting too long. 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 30-45 minutes and then doing some kind of activity or movement.
Although this study used 5-minute walks, you can substitute any type of movement/activity you prefer. Depending on whether you’re at home or the office, I recommend things like stretches, squats, jumping jacks, lunges, high knees, donkey kicks, and short walks.
It is not 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 sit the rest of the day. You can’t make up for 10 hours of stillness with an hour of exercise.
The reason these periodic, intermittent breaks in activity are so important is this: When people sit uninterrupted for 3 hours, this negatively affects the ability of the lining of the leg arteries to expand and dilate as needed. needed in response to blood flow. This symptom may be a precursor to heart disease. When people divide their 3 hours of sitting with 5-minute walking breaks once an hour, the function of the arteries in the legs is not negatively affected.
In fact, it’s recommended that for every 30 minutes of sitting, you move for a minimum of one minute and 45 seconds. It doesn’t really matter what you do. The suggestions above are a good starting point. There are standing desks and even standing desks with treadmills so you can get active while you get work done.
Obviously, if you work from home, you may have a little more freedom to take a break from work in your day. If you work in an office, every bathroom break can become an activity break. Walking over to a colleague’s desk instead of texting or emailing is another burst of activity. Going for a walk, outdoors if possible, during your lunch hour is another great way to up your activity game.
While you may not be able to invest in an expensive standing desk or treadmill, you can certainly include the simple ways to increase your activity level already mentioned. I go into more detail about this in my book, Today Is Still the Day, but even sitting on a balance disk or exercise ball for a few hours of your work day helps you activate your core muscles while sitting.
Making these intermittent breaks for activity a part of your daily routine is a simple and painless way to protect your circulation and heart health.
Do you get up regularly during the day and move intentionally throughout the day?