It’s no secret a daily dose of exercise can boost your energy and overall wellbeing, and researchers have recently found that sitting for several hours each day has been linked to heart disease. Even standing has been shown to not just help with weight loss, but it can also help lower levels of cholesterol—reducing the risk of diabetes, along with other health issues related to your ticker.
Still, your busy lifestyle might keep you glued to your seat. The solution? Step away from that chair—at least for a few minutes every hour. If you’re a Fitbit user, you can set a reminder alarm using the Fitbit app, or follow a step reminder in your tracker. Fitbit automatically sets hourly activity goals and reminders at 250 steps—roughly equivalent to a few minutes of movement, which has been shown to help offset the negative effects of sitting. That could be a walk to the restroom, water cooler, and even better, a quick stroll around the block.
If you absolutely can’t break away for 250 steps, here are some ways to build more movement into every hour of the day.
Seated Scenario: You’re Stuck at Your Desk
If you can get an adjustable desk that allows you to stand, do it. You’ll burn about 40% more calories than if you work seated for the full day.
If you don’t have a standing desk, perform 5 to 10 bodyweight squats in front of your desk every hour. Push your chair away and squat down until your glutes just touch your seat, and then return to start.
If you must stay seated, try one or all of these exercises each time you receive a step reminder:
- Point your toes and squeeze your calves to lift your heels 10 times.
- Shrug your shoulders up and down 10 times.
- Lightly stretch your neck from side to side.
- Roll your ankles and wrists.
- Grab the back of your chair with both hands, and lean slightly forward, to stretch your shoulders and chest.
Even if you do these moves every other hour, you will still add movement to your day.
Seated Scenario: You Get Sucked Into the TV
Commercials eat about 15 minutes of every hour-long show, and many run for 30 seconds at a time. If you get up and move for all of those 15 minutes? Excellent. But even just choosing four short commercials will help you get your hourly movement minutes in, to counteract your couch time.
Try one or all of these exercises, and swap them for each commercial:
- Hold a plank (start position for a push-up) for 30 seconds, each time there’s a commercial break. If you are newer to exercise, or are recovering from injury, rest your knees on the floor, to help support your weight.
- Stand in front of the couch, and perform 10 to 20 bodyweight lunges, alternating legs.
- Have a back issue? Try Seated Dead Bugs: Sit on the couch with your feet flat on the floor, and lift one knee at a time, squeezing your abs to pull your leg up, and to keep your hips still. Alternate legs. More advanced exercisers can sync raising an alternate arm with opposite knee.
Movement Scenario: You’re Inside a Plane, Train, or Automobile
Isometric exercises (when you squeeze a muscle or group of muscles for a period of time, and then release) won’t necessarily burn as many calories as say, a jog, or typical gym session, but you will be able to gently strengthen your body, boost circulation, and lower your blood pressure. If you’re stuck in a seat for several hours, give these nearly invisible moves a shot at least once each hour.
- Pull your abs in toward your spine and hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then release.
- Squeeze your glutes for 20 to 30 seconds, then release.
- Lift one leg at a time, slowly contracting your core with each lift. Repeat 20 times per side.
Your best bet? Pull over for a breather—and some steps.
How do you sneak fitness into your day when your schedule runs amuck? Join the conversation in the comments below!
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.