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We are built to move. Moving more is a small action that needs no equipment or preparation. It can make a significant difference to our health.
What are the benefits of moving more?
Being in the seated, reclined, or lying position whilst expending little energy for long periods whilst awake, is known as being sedentary. Sedentary behaviour is an independent risk factor for poor metabolic health, increasing our risk of conditions related to poor metabolic health such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. This means even when all our other lifestyle habits are healthy, being sedentary could have a negative impact on our health. This is likely still true even if we are doing vigorous exercise five or more times a week.
For many people the daily routine can engineer movement out of the day. Commuting to work, sitting at a desk, spending long periods on the sofa at home all contribute to a sedentary lifestyle.
What should we do?
Reducing the amount of time being sedentary can improve our physical health and measures of metabolic health. There is no official agreed maximum safe sedentary time. However, a reasonable approach is to break up sedentary time by moving for at least 1 to 2 minutes every 30 to 60 minutes. The 1 to 2 minutes of activity does not need to be strenuous. It can simply be standing up and pottering around, and getting our arms, legs and the body’s big muscles moving.
Where possible we should try to make moving part of our day, or a habit. For some of us this may mean we need to be aware of the activities and routines in our day that encourage us to be sedentary, such as screens (television, mobile phones, computers), long meetings, and transport.
Some ideas to help us move more include:
- Having a standing desk
- Getting up and walking to another room of the home, building, or outside every hour
- Building micro-workout habits throughout the day
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