Since my last entry I have started studying at Teachers College of Columbia University to get a Masters in Applied Physiology of Exercise. The course work thus far has been incredible, and I’m learning so much about the state of our country (and the world) when it comes to being physically active. It has taken a long time for the science to catch up with the changes in our daily habits and current culture of work and leisure. The most haunting facts that have been discussed recently regard our sedentary behavior.
We sit, and we sit a lot. We know that we should exercise, and many of us do! But what the current studies are finding is that even if you get in your recommended 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous intensity exercise per week, but spend the rest of your time sedentary, you will still be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.
So much of today’s work consists of sitting in front of computer screens, sitting for meetings, sitting for phone conversations. When we get home, we sit in front of our personal computer, or TV. Today I am going to list a few tips that has helpful for me to try to increase my daily physical activity and minimize inactivity.
1) Wear an Accelerometer or Pedometer. Something that measures your daily activity or steps will give you a way to track your activity from day-to-day. Seeing how active you were one day over another might be enough motivation to get you moving, or set goals for yourself to increase your activity.
2) Get up periodically during the day. Some people like to set alarms on their computers, or make themselves get up frequently to refill a glass of water. Whatever you do at your desk, every half hour, or hour make sure you stand up for a minute, take a brief walk. It just might help you to concentrate and be more focused when you get back to work.
3) Change your work habits. If you are so inclined to change your work space, there are multiple options. Some people prefer standing desks, or desks that can alter their height from sitting to standing. At the Teachers College lab, they even have a treadmill desk! Getting a balance ball chair is also a great alternative, you might still be sitting, but your core and balance muscles will still be at work. Also think about walking meetings. Who says the only way to solve a problem is to sit and talk about it? Go for a walk and see what ideas come up.
4) Take the stairs. Walking is excellent for your health, and if you are healthy enough to take the stairs do it. Why wait for the elevator if you’re just going up a few flights?
5) Schedule your workouts. Whether you go in the morning, in the middle of the day, or at night, make sure it’s on your calendar and that you actually go. It’s too easy to press snooze in the morning, go for a long lunch or fall into the couch after work. Do what ever you need to do to make sure you still get in some exercise.