Physical activity is considered a key component to living a healthy, functional life and preventing chronic disease as a person ages. However, as we grow into adulthood, we tend to become more and more sedentary; that is, we move less and less. Although many of us try to make it to the gym three or four times per week for maybe an hour or so, we fail to complete much physical activity outside of that. While some daily gym time is certainly a better alternative to no physical activity at all, new research indicates that this may not be enough to stave off chronic disease and to generally stay healthy as we age. The research from the Mayo Clinic indicated that individuals who sat for periods of at least 4 hours per day were at least 50% more likely to die from any cause, and were at a 125% increase in risk of developing signs and symptoms associated with cardiovascular disease as compared to individuals who only sat for 2 hours per day. Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the research is that a daily exercise program did not significantly offset the negative effects of sitting for long periods (Levine, J. A., 2012). The key indication here is that rather than thinking of exercise as our only mode of physical activity, we need to shift our mindset to consider exercise as simply a component that fits into a larger physical activity game plan. If you work in an occupation that keeps you on your feet throughout the day then it should be fairly easy to buy into the idea of working in more physical activity besides exercise into your daily life. However, many more people work long hours while sitting at a desk in front of a computer and simply do not see how it is possible to work in more activity—this is where we have to get creative. Here is a list of products and ideas that can help you become more active throughout the day…
- Daily Activity Tracker
One of the most convenient ways to keep track of how active you are throughout the day is to invest in a daily physical activity tracker. I’m not talking about your granddad’s old-school pedometer; I’m referring to state of the art iPhone compatible tools that are capable of tracking movement patterns, sleeping patterns, energy balance and more. Some of the most popular options are San Francisco based fitbit, the Nike Fuelband, and the Misfit Shine. Many of these include the practical option of notifying you when you have been sitting for a specified amount of time, which could be really helpful if you need to be reminded to get up from the desk more often.
- Stand-up or Treadmill Desk
This may sound a little crazy, but more and more companies are encouraging individuals to move away from sitting at their desk in favor of standing while working. Companies such as TrekDesk have a variety of options for working while standing with options that include desks made simply for standing or to be attached to a treadmill. If riding while working is your style, there are also desks made for stationary bikes…pretty exciting stuff! Maybe hauling a treadmill up to your fifth floor office just isn’t feasible, but this is still a great option for home offices and work spaces.
- Exercise Ball chair
Sure, you may want to explain to your boss on the front end why you are bringing a beach ball on steroids into the office. But an exercise ball can be a cheap, convenient way to at least burn a few calories and work on balance while in the office. Check out the options from BUSO to find the right fit.
- Daily Activity Log
If you’re not into all of the high-tech gadgets and gizmos and prefer to go old school, maybe you should consider simply keeping a daily activity journal to track your physical activity. There are several options as far as activity journals go, many or which may help to add structure to your tracking, but all you really need is a writing tablet and a pen.
- Activity Buddy
One of the most effective ways to make yourself move more may be to add a bit of accountability to the project. Here, you could find someone else in the office that is just as concerned about moving more as you and schedule hourly walks throughout the office. This may sound corny, but it’s better than heart disease, right? The most important thing to do is to find a method that works for you and to stick with it. Regardless of which method you use it’s important to move more throughout the day, whether you hit the gym regularly or not.
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