Do You Sit Too Much? Get Up and Move!

Mar 23, 2018
Walking Dogs

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Do you sit for long stretches of the day and/or evening for work, crafting, entertainment, or online socializing? If so, you may be jeopardizing your health.

As someone who has “sat for a living” for decades as a writer-editor, I can relate! 

Recent studies that associate long periods of sitting with more cardiovascular disease, larger waists, more cancer, and other health risks.

The remedy? Microbreaks!

Experts recommend taking short breaks every 20 to 30 minutes that get you up and moving around. Canadian blogger Paul Ingraham calls it “microbreaking.”

You don’t need to do vigorous exercise during these brief breaks from sitting. Just get up and move around for a couple of minutes. At home, you could put a load of laundry in the washer, get a glass of water, take a couple of trips up and down the stairs, walk around the driveway, or pace while you talk on a cell phone. People at work could walk to the printer, copier, or restroom; walk in place; or stroll to a colleague’s desk with a question.

Don’t forget, though, that these mini-movement breaks don’t substitute for longer bouts of aerobic and strengthening exercise that build and maintain your fitness base.

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Get Outdoors!

Now, it’s time to think about getting outside.

A substantial body of research affirms the numerous health benefits of spending time in natural settings: walking in woods or urban parks, canoeing down a river, tending a vegetable garden, meandering along a coastline or a lakeshore.

Researchers have found that spending time in nature strengthens a person’s immune system, reduces stress hormones, lowers blood pressure, and improves social interactions. Furthermore, it may improve learning and increase empathy.

Even a dose of 5 minutes outdoors increases our sense of well-being. Try a short stroll or what I call slow walking.

Interestingly, green spaces such as parks and community gardens in urban residential environments seem to reduce crime (especially gun violence), decrease domestic violence, stimulate positive social interactions, and strengthen family connections.

What’s more, hospital patients exposed to green spaces through their windows (rather than parking lots) have better clinical outcomes. They experience less fear, anxiety, and anger; have lower blood pressure; and need fewer medications.

So there’s much to be said for even just the notion of the outdoors.

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Human health may depend on connecting with nature. 

The term “biophilia” relates to the hypothesis that human health may depend on connecting with nature.

Biologist Edward O. Wil-son and others have hypothesized that a deep affinity that they call “biophilia” exists between humans and other living systems. Proponents of the hypothesis suggest that a connection with the the plants and animals around us, including those species too small to see, is essential to our physical and mental health and productivity.

Consequently, public health advocates around the world have begun advocating immersion in nature for health.

Ready for some more ideas? Here are some some 10-minute workouts from jumping with a rope to the parking lot trot.

About This Blog

"Living Naturally" is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that's good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, and ideas to make your home a healthy, safe haven. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it's re-learning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better healthier lives.

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In the best of all possible worlds only ...

The advice to "stroll to a colleague’s desk with a question" only works in those gentler times and workplaces; many, many "sweatshop" workplaces hiring country folk now forbid workers from leaving their stations to talk to colleagues and trips to the restroom are counted and timed and pets at work are prohibited. Nice ideas but not realisable for many of us struggling to keep a roof over our heads who can't afford to quit or move given today's workplaces and the super-rights of corporations . These suggestions only work for the privileged few employees in our right-to-work culture.

You're right!

Thanks for posting that sharp reminder, Pat. Many Americans work in jobs that don’t allow freedoms such as the ability to get up and move from time to time to shake off some of the negative health affects of long sitting.

Of course I was aiming at the many who don’t have such severe workplace restrictions, and who sit most of the day (and often well into the night) on the job, commuting, and later, on the couch.

Writing always involves making choices about which group or groups of readers to address. What speaks to one group can feel exclusive and ignorant to others. Both in tone and content, my post excluded the folks you want us all to remember.

Get up! ...and MOVE!

This is definately a good reminder for me. I had a severe foot injury in 2015 and literally could not be on my feet for almost a year. As a result I have lost muscle in much of my whole body from sitting so much. I'm able to walk without the aid of crutches now but I still have to be careful not to re-injure my foot. (I took up an old hobby of crochet to occupy my time.)
So my Podiatrist says to stay off my foot as much as possible but my family MD says to get out & walk... Can you say 'conundrum'? LoL

This is a great reminder!

This is a great reminder! Score one for those frequent interruptions I get working at home;)

Great post! This is why I

Great post! This is why I love bringing my dog, Murray, to work so I "have" to get up often to take him out. It's a win win!

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