We’ve all heard the advice. Exercise regularly — be it dance, cardio, or weights. Do it a few times a week, train well, and make sure your form is right. All well-intentioned, good advice, yes. In fact, the Public Health Guideline On Physical Activity recommends 150 minute of cardiorespiratory training in a moderate to high intensity environment. This is about three Cult classes per week. One might think that it’s enough — and from a cardiorespiratory training perspective, it is. But does that mean you are non-sedentary?
The answer is a no. Why? Because while exercise a few times a week is important, it’s just as essential to move more often. After all, it isn’t enough to do three 50-minute group classes a week, while sitting in front of a laptop or TV for the remaining four days. If you are among the majority who resonates with this, well, we’re sorry to break this to you – You are an active couch potato.
You may be a little confused at this point and it is only fair that you feel this way. You’re probably wondering why we’re asking you to move frequently even if you’ve been doing the recommended amount of workouts in a week. Well, here’s why. It’s true that regular exercise has its benefits — it improves the body’s capacity to get work done, and ensures favourable health markers such as triglycerides levels, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. The catch is though, that our sedentary lifestyles (i.e. total sitting time) can negatively influence these markers, possibly resulting in abnormal readings of various health metrics.
In fact, it has been reported in studies that total sedentary time has consistently been associated with unfavourable cardio-metabolic markers such as insulin resistance, elevated triglycerides levels, etc., even after adjusting for total physical activity time. Keep in mind here though that physical inactivity and sedentary behaviors are two different things. While the former refers to too little exercise, the latter is simply, too much sitting!
So, how can all of us, with our 9-5 (and often beyond) jobs ensure lesser sedentary time? How can we move more often? It’s easier than you think.
Track 7 to 10K steps per day (over and above your regular exercise). You can do this in many different ways despite your busy schedules:
- Set up walking work meetings: Walk around while you’re on those Zoom calls. You could also set 50 minute meetings instead of 60, and use those extra ten minutes to get some steps in
- Drink enough water: Not just for the reason you think! The resultant bathroom breaks or even better so, the walk to the water cooler will have you away from your desk more often. This way you can add in more steps than you otherwise would. Unusual method, yes. But it does work
- Do your chores yourself: Even if you did a few simple chores such as doing some of sweeping the floor (you’ll know why you need strong quads), walking your pets, and even just washing your car you’ll manage to clock in those extra steps and movements.
- Stand more often: When you do eventually go back into the office, the steps don’t need to stop. Invest in a sit/stand desk that’ll allow you to work while standing, thereby burning more calories. Yes, really
- Set reminders: If you aren’t convinced, just set reminders on your phone to get up and move around the office/home
- Skip private transport: While this may be tough during covid times or for those used to driving to work, it may be a good idea to opt for public transport once in a while. Research has shown that those who take public transport tend to sit less, and walk more to get to the bus or train
At the end of the day, remember that the human body has been designed to move. So get out of bed, get off that couch, stand up, and give your body what it deserves. Make the choice to #MoveMoreOften.