New Year’s Resolution: Move More, Sit Less!

Albert J. Guarini, PT, DPT, MTC

Albert J. Guarini, PT, DPT, MTC

As 2019 approaches, many folks will be making their New Year’s resolutions or intentions for the upcoming year. When it comes to healthy resolutions smoking cessation, eating healthier, drinking less alcohol, and getting more exercise are perennial favorites. But have you considered a resolution to sit less? We all know that what we put in our body affects our overall health, but did you also know there is growing evidence that sitting or inactivity for several hours a day is unhealthy as well.

A review of numerous clinical studies has confirmed that prolonged inactivity – defined as eight to twelve hours per day – has become a risk factor for poor health, including conditions like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type II diabetes.

With so many advances in technology, our lifestyles are changing, and as a result, we’re spending a lot more time sitting down – at home, at work, commuting, while travelling, and at sports and entertainment events. Everywhere you go, there are opportunities to sit more.

The good news is, there are simple steps a person can take to help counteract the negative effects of inactivity. First, take an inventory of how much time you spend sitting each day. You might be surprised just how much sitting you actually do in a day or a week.

Next, resolve to reduce the amount of time spent sitting, even if it is just small incremental increases each day. Start small, but stay consistent. For example, stand up and walk around for three to five minutes every 30 minutes you spend sitting at your desk. Or, try walking at lunch every day. Even a 15 minute walk can make an impact. At work or when you are shopping, park at little further from the entrance. Not only will it be easier to find a parking space, but you can easily add a few more steps into your routine each day. If you don’t have any underlying health issues, skip the elevator in favor of taking the stairs.

Many fitness watches and devices have helpful apps that remind you to stand up and walk around for a few minutes each hour. These devices, or even a simple pedometer, can also be used to help you track the amount of steps taken each day. While many experts encourage a goal of 10,000 steps per day (equivalent to five miles), steady, incremental increases on a consistent basis is most important. To make walking fun, enlist a group of coworkers or family members to walk with you each day. Walking as part of a group helps to motivate you and keep you accountable in your goals. Finding ways to make walking fun and enjoyable will not only encourage you to sit less this coming year, but it will also help you hard wire walking into a part of a healthier lifestyle.

Albert J. Guarini, PT, DPT, MTC, is a Physical Therapist with Cooper Bone and Joint Institute. To learn more about Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation at Cooper, click here.

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