Are you sitting more and more each day? Maybe your commute is getting longer or your job is requiring you to be in front of the computer screen most of your work day.
Do you get sucked into playing games on your phone or stuck in the email or Facebook trap? If so, have you noticed any changes in your mood, ability to focus or your waist line?
If you are sitting more than 6 hours a day, chances are your blood pressure is on the rise. Sitting puts us at greater risk for diabetes, obesity, depression and some types of cancer.
Everyone knows that physical activity can burn calories and is good for our heart (cardiovascular system) but it’s important for a healthy brain as well. Luckily, it doesn’t take as much time or movement as you would imagine.
Finding the right balance between your regular workouts and moving throughout the day is the recipe for a happy, healthy mind and body. Here are some benefits to getting your move on throughout the day:
1. You’ll be happy!
Physical activity helps our brain with learning, energy levels, memory, MOOD and more. How? Through BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor), a protein that is essential for the survival of neurons (cells that make up the brain). It protects the brain from ischemic damage (damage from lack of oxygen), degeneration (deterioration) and promotes long term memory.
The number one way to increase BDNF is with physical activity/exercise. The good news is you don’t have to do hours of exercise to get the benefits.
Just 20 minutes of any kind of physical activity will improve your brain health and release those happy hormones.
FIT TIP: The more you enjoy it, the better it is for you. Add your favorite music and the dopamine will start flowing (your pleasure hormone).
2. You’ll be more creative!
Stanford psychologists have discovered that when people walk, they increase their creativity by 60% compared to when they sit. Walking also helps you rethink a project or problem from another viewpoint because it elevates mood (bonus!) and improves novel ideas. Walking can help change the perspective or creation of new ideas. Once you sit back down, creativity continues for a short period.
FIT TIP: Find a way to walk anytime you have creativity block. Start having walking meetings at work to get the ideas flowing. Walk and talk more throughout your work day! Your brain will love it!
3. You’ll be more focused!
Moving just 5 minutes every hour will help you stay focused. If you sit a lot, break it up by moving for a few minutes regularly to help your focus and attention, as well as remind the body to keep burning calories.
FIT TIP: Stand up and stretch. Walk and talk to make a phone call. Change locations with your laptop whenever possible. Walk to your co-workers office to give them a message versus email. Bust out a few dance moves. You get the idea. Move a little bit to help you find your focus, then dive back into your project.
4. You’ll have a healthy heart!
The biggest bang for your buck when it comes to your heart is moving throughout the day. Why?
In regards to the heart, we need to counteract the ill effects of staying in one position too long. Think SITTING! We were not meant to sit long periods in a chair. We are built to move.
According to Dr. Joan Vernikos, former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division and author of “Sitting Kills, Moving Heals”, the key to a healthy heart is to repeatedly interrupt your sitting.
Standing up once every 20 minutes is more effective than walking 15 minutes on a treadmill for cardiovascular and metabolic changes. It’s also more beneficial than standing up 35 times at once.
FIT TIP: Set your timer and stand up and down 3 times every hour throughout the day to help your heart stay healthy. How simple is that?
Now that you have these tips and know the health benefits of movement, you shouldn’t have any excuses about getting more active during the day. All you need is a few minutes to take care of your body, mind, and soul.
Be intentional. Keep it simple. Pick one new idea and weave it into your day and see how it makes you feel.
Post this summary by your computer to remind you:
I would love to hear what movement strategy you added to your day and how it made you feel. Please let me know in the comments below.
Now get to Movin’!
Mollie Miller, PT