Sitting time has increasingly been in the news as more studies show its potential health risks. The Lark DPP mission is all about breaking up sitting time to lower risk for type 2 diabetes, and jumping up off the couch every so often can help you lose weight, too.
But how exactly do you break up sitting time? What do you do when it is time to give your metabolism and health a boost in the middle of a sedentary day? The Lark DPP check-in offered a few ideas to try, and here are some ways to get moving in all kinds of sedentary situations.
At the Office
Are you among the millions of Americans who make a living by sitting down? Those 20, 40, or more hours per week spent at a desk, often 8 or more hours at a time broken up only by a lunch break, are a good target for breaking up sitting time. There are some ways to break it up.
- Take phone calls standing, pacing, or outside.
- Stand up each hour or half-hour and stretch or move a bit.
- Walk across the office to talk to coworkers or your boss instead of using the office messaging system or email.
- Store some resistance bands at work and use them for your legs or arms when you can.
The trickiest thing about breaking up sedentary time at the office may be the workplace culture. In a traditional workplace setting, it is easy to worry that coworkers may think you are odd or that your efforts to break up sedentary time are really just ways to work less. Uninformed bosses may suspect the same thing.
Your best bet may be to be direct and honest and explain what you are doing and why. You can also try being discreet about your efforts, such as using stairs instead of the elevator, taking frequent bathroom and water breaks, and going outside for walks during breaktime.
Those precious moments of quiet time at home can be invaluable for mental health and relaxation, but they may add up faster than you realize to become big blocks of sedentary time. A couple episodes of a TV show, an hour’s news show, and a two-hour movie are each long enough to allow you to benefit from a quick stretch break or two. Reading, texting and doing social media on your phone or computer, and doing crossword puzzles are also engrossing and should be broken up periodically.
There are tons of ways to get moving at home. For example:
- Squats, calf raises, and lunges.
- Mountain climbers and front and side planks.
- Punches and jabs like a boxer.
- Arm swings and alternating arms reaching up to the ceiling.
- Marching in place, step-touching side to side, and hamstring curls.
- Push-ups on the floor or modified push-ups against a wall.
- Crunches or curls.
- Walking to get items after intentionally putting them in a different room.
- Give your dog what she really wants: an involved playmate.
If it helps, you might want to put a comfy workout mat near your comfy couch so getting up to move is, well, comfier.
Do you spend your whole day doing errands? It may only feel that you are “running” around while “running” errands. The truth may be that those errands may involve a lot of driving, some sitting in waiting rooms and standing in line, and not much else. A few tweaks can make the difference between those errands being healthy versus harmful for weight and blood sugar.
- Walk between errands when you can. It is often possible to park the lot at one destination, and walk to a nearby destination without moving the car. For example, you could park at the supermarket, walk to get your coffee or go to the drugstore, and finish up at the supermarket so you can put your groceries in the trunk.
- Fidget whenever possible. Shift your weight from one foot to the other and pick up and put down a full shopping basket when standing in line, or bend and unbend your legs when sitting in a waiting room.
- Walk before and after driving. You can do this by parking further away and by walking a lap around the parking lot before you enter and after you exit a building.
Long commutes are an unfortunate part of life for many people, but just as books on tape and quality radio programming can make commuting easier on the mind, so can moving periodically make it easier on the body. When it is safe, bending and unbending legs, doing ankle circles, and moving one arm at a time can help. Walking even for a few minutes before starting the commute and after finishing it can improve health, too.
You may have a leg up if you take public transportation. There is almost sure to be a short walk at either end of the commute, and it often makes sense to get on a stop later or off a stop early to walk a bit more (this works if you are using a rideshare or driving service, too). Move as you can while in transit, and, if possible, you could stand every so often.
Being in Lark DPP can already do wonders for your health. Breaking up sitting time can be the next greatest thing for you. With a bit of practice and creativity, moving periodically can become natural and an easy way to lower blood sugar.