It might seem like a pipe dream to squeeze an hour-long workout at the gym into your hectic daily schedule. But you can sneak in exercise while getting ready in the morning, commuting, working and unwinding with family in the evenings. Your body will thank you.
Leading a sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to your health and wellbeing, says Fredina Usher-Weems, Fitness Program Manager of the Lifestyle 180 program at the Cleveland Clinic.
“Being sedentary can lead to chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure and cholesterol. It can also result in obesity, respiratory problems, knee and back problems, and osteoporosis,” she says.
There’s no doubt inactivity is dangerous. A study in the January 2011 issue of The Journal of the American College of Cardiology found no matter how much time you spend being physically active, you’re doing serious damage to your health if you’re parked in front of the television or computer for two or more hours a day. In fact, your risk of heart attack or cardiac complication goes up by 125 percent. If you sit motionless for at least four hours a day, you’re 48 percent more likely to die of any cause, regardless of how much you exercise the rest of the time.
In other words, even if you manage to hit the gym a few times a week, sitting around for the majority of your day (hello, desk jobs!) hits your health, hard.
Obesity researchers have pegged the rise of sedentary jobs in the U.S. (as workers moved from physical jobs like farming to hunching-over-a-computer office jobs) as one of the key reasons for the creeping obesity epidemic. Human bodies are meant to move!
If you have a sedentary job—and 80 percent of U.S. citizens do—don’t feel discouraged. You can easily take control of your activity level and improve your health. It’s not as hard as you think: Get up from your desk and walk around throughout your workday. You can even take a walk around the block. The more activity you can fit into your day, the better.
Usher-Weems also recommends being mindful of movement habits. When lifting a heavy object, use your core: When you lift up, she says to drop your shoulders and your pelvis, while engaging your abdominal muscles to prevent injury.
Sprinkle a few of these creative ideas into your day to jumpstart your active, healthy lifestyle:
While getting ready in the morning…
While at work…
While unwinding after work…
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