Most of us, myself included, can’t seem to avoid being inactive for a significant part of the day. When the work we do involves being chair-bound, like responding to emails, writing reports, and attending meetings, it’s difficult to avoid sitting on our bums, often for far longer than we’d like. And this “sitting disease” as scientists call it, is bad for our health. Up to 70 percent of us spend six or more hours a day sitting, and our sedentary ways are linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, as well as breast and colon cancers.
But, there’s a solution - one that requires just minutes a day, and can significantly enhance your health. Researchers in New Zealand assessed a group of 70 normal weight adults, and found that taking a break from sitting every 30 minutes, and performing a brief minute and 40 second burst of exercise, helped decrease blood sugar levels. In fact, blood sugar readings improved even more than in a second test group, who sat for nine hours straight, then exercised for 30 continuous minutes. In addition, compared to one bout of lengthy exercise, short, frequent exercise breaks were more effective at lowering post-meal blood sugar levels, which is important for staving off conditions like type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
To take advantage of this savvy strategy, try putting the following tips into action:
- Set an alarm to go off every half an hour, as a reminder to stand up and walk in place for a few minutes.
- Keep a jump rope handy, and jump or skip during your “sitting breaks.”
- When talking on the phone, walk around your office or home instead of sitting.
- While watching TV at night, stay active. During each commercial, perform simple exercises you can do right in your living room, like the ones in my metabolism-boosting workout video and belly flattening video.
- If you’re working on the computer, sit while you type, but stand while you read.
In addition to protecting your health, this simple tactic can also improve your circulation, and may even boost you productivity – pretty great payoffs for relatively small changes to your usual routines.