Making Intermittent Activity a New Healthy Habit
Most of us have heard about the benefits of intermittent fasting. We’ve also heard about the dangers of sitting for too long. Well, recent research shows the benefits of short, periodic bouts of exercise — what I call intermittent activity. I talked about this at length in my book, Today is Still the Day. I suggest setting a timer to ring every 30 to 45 minutes and then engaging in some type of activity or movement.
While 5-minute walks were used in this study, you can substitute whatever type of exercise/activity you prefer. Depending on whether you’re at home or in the office, I recommend things like stretches, squats, jumping jacks, lunges, high knees, donkey kicks, and short walks.
It’s no news that sitting for long periods of time has a negative impact on health. In fact, sitting for long periods of time, even with regular exercise, is just as bad for your health as smoking! One expert calls this “active sedentary,” which she describes as “…a new category of people who are fit for an hour but sit around for an hour of exercise for the rest of the day.”
The reason these periodic, intermittent breaks in activity are so important is this: When people sit continuously for 3 hours, it negatively impacts the ability of the lining in their leg arteries to expand and stretch as needed in response to blood flow . This symptom can be a precursor to heart disease. When people break their 3 hours of sitting by taking 5 minute walk breaks every hour, the functioning of the arteries in their legs is not negatively affected.
In fact, it’s recommended that you move for at least 1 minute and 45 seconds for every 30 minutes of sitting. It doesn’t matter much what you do. The above suggestions are a good starting point. There are standing desks and even treadmill standing desks so you can move around while you work.
Of course, working from home gives you a little more freedom to fit work breaks into your day. When you work in an office, every bathroom break can become an activity break. Going to a colleague’s desk instead of texting or emailing is another activity boost. Taking a walk, if possible outdoors, during your lunch break is another great way to up your activity game.
While you may not be able to invest in an expensive standing desk or treadmill, you can certainly incorporate the simple ways we mentioned earlier to increase your activity level. I go into this in more detail in my book, Today is Still the Day, but even if you sit on a balance disc or exercise ball for a few hours of your workday, it will help activate your core muscles while you’re sitting.
Making those intermittent breaks in activity a part of your daily routine is an easy and painless way to protect your circulatory and heart health.
Do you get up regularly during the day and do you move consciously throughout the day?
Thanks to Ann Musico