Just over two hours of moderate exercise a week could help stave off a host of medical conditions, researchers say simply breaking up sedentary periods is not enough – overall time spent seated must be cut to lower the risk. Such periods could be as short as a minute in duration.
Here are six ways in which sitting time can be reduced and activity boosted, whether you’re working in the office, at home or elsewhere.
Break it down
Movement guidelines recommend adults clock up at least 150 minutes of moderate to brisk exercise (or 75 mins of intense activity) every week, achieved in chunks of at least 10 minutes. But this research says even shorter bouts are beneficial. It means you can cut that exercise pie any way you like, even just a minute or two at a time. As little as 5 to 10 minutes of high-intensity incidental activity will make a significant dent.
Wash that car
“Incidental physical activity that is part of our daily living is by far the most promising option for turning the physical inactivity epidemic tide,” says Prof Emmanuel Stamatakis of the University of Sydney. Even domestic tasks such as yard or housework and handwashing the car can count towards to your daily activity. But standing is not enough. “Our bodies need a challenge, even if this challenge is a very brief one,” says Stamatakis.
A little bit more
Sara Carrigan OAM, Olympic Cyclist and owner of Sara Carrigan Cycling says the key is to simply do a little bit more of what you already manage and enjoy, such as riding your bike or making your walk to the shops or around the block a little longer. “I recommend starting with your typical day and weekend: where are you already doing something in an active way – could you do that for longer? Behavioural research studies show that it is more practical than starting something new.
Cycling affords a beautiful way to explore, to feel immersed in the culture, to feel free and to feel connected with your surroundings. There’s no better way to enjoy a new location with a panoramic view atop a bicycle, whilst feeling fit, healthy and active at the same time! I love that on a bicycle I can explore territory that I would have not otherwise seen, many beautiful spots are usually blind to the passing motorist but cherished by the rider,” shares Sara.
Don’t forget strength and balance
Current guidelines recommend adults do strength and balance exercises daily. Carrying heavy shopping bags an extra few hundred metres to a car parked further away, climbing stairs or even balancing on one leg are all options; the research also suggests digging in the garden or lifting and carrying a child are all helpful.
Find your exercise tribe
Taryn Collins, Occupational Therapist and mother of two young children suggests to ‘find your exercise tribe’. Research recommends keeping accountable to each other increases motivation so Taryn suggests “Working out with like-minded friends or family members not only increases your accountability to make that exercise session but also provides opportunities to socialise whilst looking after your physical and mental health. Meeting a friend at the gym, heading outdoors for a trail walk or hitting an exercise park with the whole family are just some of the ways to not only improve your fitness but of those around you too.”
Optimise work time
Being sedentary for extended periods of time has been linked to an increased risk of a number of health problems, including diabetes and heart disease, as well as early death. But a recent study found reducing the risk isn’t only about breaking up bouts of being still – it is important to reduce your overall sedentary time. Walking, or doing neck stretches, lunges or squats while on the phone or in a virtual session, going over to your colleagues, rather than emailing, and scheduling walk-and-talk sessions, could all get the ball rolling. Make work time work for your wellbeing.
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