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.
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.
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.