The human body has more than 600 muscles and around 360 joints, which tells us that the body was made to move. Also, your skin is stretchy which lets you move freely. Your blood flow, hormones and metabolism all depend on movement throughout the day to work the right way.
When you are seated for a long time, all of your body functions start to slow down. For example, oxygen flow to your muscles and brain is decreased, fat stores burn less efficiently and brain activity slows. On top of that, sitting for a long time puts pressure on the spine that can cause damage over time. Worldwide, inactivity causes an early death for about five million people each year.
Now that you know some of the dangers of sitting and inactivity, let’s talk about the benefits of movement. Simply moving from time to time during the day can lower blood pressure, regulate blood sugar, lower resting heart rate, control body fat, improve immune function, increase strength and endurance and much more!
You don’t have to “work out” to get the benefits of movement. Doing small bouts of moving throughout the day can decrease the impact that sitting has on weight gain and overall health. These movements could include:
- Don’t sit when you don’t have to – Stand while eating, working, talking on the phone, reading, watching TV or meeting with a friend.
- Do chores – Make a deal with yourself to do some housework before you sit down to watch TV or during the ads. Chores such as cleaning, cooking, yard work, organizing and laundry all count as movement!
- Park far away – You’ve heard this before but getting in those extra steps could help offset the time you sat down in the car.
- Take the stairs or the long way – When going for a bathroom break, getting up for a drink of water or delivering a message to someone, try taking the long way to get there. If you are faced with the decision to take the elevator or the stairs and you are able, take the stairs!
You may be wondering, ‘Do these small changes really make a difference?’ Take a look at how many calories can be burned in a day filled with some of these small changes:
- Making the bed – 17 calories
- Watering plants (15 mins) – 26 calories
- Morning walk at work (15 mins) – 100 calories
- Taking the long way to the bathroom all day – 50 calories
- Taking the stairs three times – 50 calories
- Making dinner – 68 calories
- Clearing and washing dishes – 52 calories
- Vacuuming (30 mins) – 86 calories
- Ironing while watching TV (1 hour) – 88 calories
That’s an extra 537 calories and doesn’t include any formal exercise or working out!
Think of your body as a computer. As long as you are moving the mouse and tapping the keys everything is up and running. But after you let it sit idle for a few minutes, the machine goes into power-save mode. Our bodies work the same. They are meant to be active so when you sit and do nothing for too long, it slows down and burns less energy. Moving throughout the day keeps your metabolism going and helps greatly in the long run!