Up until about 12,000 years ago, humans spent most of their time hunting, fishing, and foraging for food.ref1 In other words, they were always on their feet. Fast forward to now, and, biologically speaking, we haven’t changed all that much. But unlike our hunter-gatherer ancestors, many of us spend a little too much time slumped on the sofa or sitting at a desk.
According to the WHO, as many as 85% of people worldwide live sedentary lives.ref2 The sitting disease, which your doctor might call sedentarism, can take a serious toll on your health.
Humans are built to move. Physical inactivity is among the top-10 leading causes of death and disability globally. It can increase the risk of several diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancers.
But there’s good news. Healthy levels of activity are achievable for most of us. Doing 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, or around 30 minutes a day, should be enough.ref3 And you don’t need to dust off the old gym membership. Small changes in your day-to-day life can get you closer to that target.
Let’s take a look at 6 simple ways you can start moving more at home, at work, and on the go.
Moving more at home
Embrace your chores
Chores are the bane of our lives. But together, mopping the floor, doing the laundry, and taking the bins out can add up to a full-blown workout. Schedule in regular chore time, and listen to a podcast or your favorite playlist to make it more interesting. You’ll burn calories while making your home a nicer place to live.
Hack your routine
Brushing your hair, showering, grabbing a glass of water. Day-to-day activities can be so routine that we end up doing them on autopilot. So why not put that time to better use with some simple strength-building exercises? Try calf raises in the shower, squats while brushing your teeth, or table-top push-ups before you sit down for a meal. There are so many exercises you can try, so just find the ones that work for you.
Moving more at work
Set movement reminders
If you work at a desk, big chunks of time can pass without any movement at all. Set a reminder on your phone or stick a note on your screen, reminding you to get up and walk about every 20 minutes. Breaking up your work by stretching your legs can also help improve productivity.
Take a proper lunch break
Taking a break at lunchtime is vital to stop you from burning out. But don’t just scroll on your phone while you eat a sandwich at your desk. Take the opportunity to get active by heading outside for some fresh air. Get some steps in while you discover the area around your workplace.
Moving more on the go
Take the stairs
Did you know that taking the stairs burns more calories per minute than jogging? Opting for the stairs over elevators and escalators will help strengthen your muscles, bones, and joints. And it’s guaranteed to get your heart pumping.
Picking up the pace can turn walking into a serious workout. You’ll burn more calories, strengthen your leg muscles, and get your cardiovascular system working. Plus, you’ll get around faster. Excellent. Start at a moderate pace to get your heart and lungs working, and then pick up the speed once you’re warmed up.
There are countless ways you can move more during the day, so why not get adventurous? Any time you spend up on your feet is a move in the right direction. You’ll feel much better for it.
National Geographic. “Hunter-Gatherer Culture”.
WHO. “Physical inactivity a leading cause of disease and disability, warns WHO”. 4 April 2002.