Numerous studies have linked prolonged sitting to a higher risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer, as well as increased risk of physical disability as we age. One study even found that middle-aged adults who sit more than nine hours a day double their risk of early death.
Here’s the good news: The same study found that a brisk, 24-minute daily walk can help counteract the effects of staying sedentary. Plus, your dog (if you have one) will thank you!
Don’t have a spare 24 minutes in the middle of your workday? Note that getting up and moving every half hour reduces the harms of prolonged sitting, according to a 2017 study.
To move more, consider the Pomodoro Technique. It was developed in the 1990s by Francesco Cirillo, who used a tomato-shaped timer to get more physical activity during his workday. Here’s how it works.
- Choose a task.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes.
- Work on the task until the timer rings.
- Take a five-minute break to stretch, walk, do jumping jacks, wash the dishes, clean the cat’s litter box—whatever gets you moving.
- Set the timer for another 25 minutes, followed by another five-minute break.
- After four 25-minute segments, take a longer break — between 15 and 30 minutes —and then repeat the routine.
You could also consider a sit & stand desk, which allows you to change up your work positions all day. This can lessen back pain and burn calories. Or pedal at a cycling workstation, which can increase your heart rate and lower blood pressure while you’re writing a memo or report.
Perhaps Mondays you’ll jog three miles, Tuesdays you’ll do a home yoga practice, and Wednesdays you’ll pedal on a stationary bike for an hour or ride outside. Mix things up to keep your exercise routine fresh and exciting, so it’s something to look forward to rather than dread.
Work toward a goal
If you’re goal-oriented, sign up for a 5K walk, a 10K run, or another competitive exercise event. You could even challenge colleagues to join you in a Facetime or Skype workout.
Don’t give up
Even the most diligent among us has to miss a business meeting sometimes. Likewise, if you have to skip a scheduled workout, it’s not the end of the world. Be flexible and consider whether you could sneak in a 30-minute evening walk. Even half an hour of moderate movement has remarkable benefits, such as increasing muscle and bone strength, improving heart and lung fitness, and reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke.
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