Healthy Lifestyle

Five Ways to Remember to Break up Sedentary Time

Breaking up sitting time is another powerful way to lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity.
Five Ways to Remember to Break up Sedentary Time
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health

Great job making it this far through Lark DPP! After some of the recent check-ins, you may now know that getting active and losing weight are not the only ways to lower diabetes risk. Breaking up sitting time is another powerful way to lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. Most people sit for hours every day, which means they have hours each day to improve health by breaking up those long periods of sitting.

At work or home, the goal is to sit still for no longer than 30 minutes at a time. More than that, and metabolism decreases while insulin resistance and blood pressure may start to rise. Over time, heart disease risk increases, as does risk for type 2 diabetes and weight gain. All it takes, though, is a quick minute or two to get your body back to its healthy, pre-sitting self. 

Reminders to Stand Up

How can you remember to get moving when engrossed in your work or on your smartphone at home? These are five reminders you can use.

1. Set an old-fashioned timer

The timer on the oven or microwave, on your watch, or on a stand-alone timer works perfectly. Just set it for 30 minutes and get moving when it goes off. Bonus: when you are at home, place your timer in another room so you are forced to stand up and walk to get it when it goes off. Then, keep walking, or at least standing, while you set it to go off in another 30 minutes.

2. Set an alarm

Remember those clock-radios that used to be the gold standard for alarm clocks? They may have been largely replaced by smartphone alarms, but they are not quite obsolete. A clock-radio can be the perfect way to instantly get you in the mood to groove if you set it to turn on a favorite radio station with energetic dancing music to carry you through your 1 to 5-minute break.

3. Use your phone alarm

We depend on our phones for everything, including our daily schedules, so it makes perfect sense for them to tell us when to get up an move. Setting the phone to go off at specific times a day, or using the timer function to ring every 30 minutes, can be a sure-fire way to remember if your phone is always on you or by your side. Tip: use earphones to avoid bothering your coworkers when the alarm goes off. 

4. Punctuate tasks

You do not need to go by the clock when breaking up sitting time. It can be just as healthy, and often better for your work flow or concentration, to stand up according to task-based or other external cues. That is, good break times at work might be after sending a few emails, before meetings start and after they finish, while talking on the phone, and after sending completed items to your manager. At home, commercial breaks on television, finishing reading a section of the newspaper, and starting a new task such as sorting the mail can all be good times to get up.

5. Use Lark

Lark is your health coach, so she may as well help with this way to get healthy. Be sure to keep your phone on you and to enable notifications so Lark can tell you when you have been sitting for a while. 

Can I Really Do This at Work?

If your boss protests, you might want to remind them:

  • Improved health lowers employer healthcare costs and reduces time off from work for illnesses
  • Reduced sitting time improves cognition, so you may be able to make better decisions and analyze situations better
  • Getting moving reduces drowsiness (hopefully your supervisor agrees that awake workers are more desirable than sleepy ones)

The research is out there, if your supervisor is interested. Once convinced, they may be willing not only to support you, but to institute company-wide programs or policies to encourage regular stretch breaks.

In addition to eating well and getting in moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity, there is something you can think about the rest of the day to prevent or lower type 2 diabetes. It involves nothing more complicated than standing up every so often when you have been sitting for a while. Think of it as your healthy break and a chance to let loose and have fun in between work sessions!