ARE YOU AN ‘ACTIVE SEDENTARY’ PERSON?
Are you an “active sedentary” person? You might think those two terms are mutually exclusive – you’re either active or sedentary, right? Well, yes and no. If you go to the gym regularly, you might class yourself as being “active” – but there is a growing section of society who fall into this new “active sedentary” group, where they go to the gym a few times a week so they think they’re being active, but they actually spend the rest of their day sitting at a desk at work or on the sofa at home. These people are actually only four per cent more active than someone who does nothing. Being “active sedentary” can be more dangerous in fact, because we don’t realise we’re actually not that active; we’re at only slightly less risk of those illnesses associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
So what can you do about it, if you think you might fall into this category? Well, the simple answer is to move more! Here are a few ideas for getting that blood pumping all day long:
Get a standing desk. Many employers are more flexible on this sort of thing these days, and if you’re working from home it’s definitely a worthwhile investment. Working at a standing desk can actually be better for your posture, and means you’re more likely to move around while you’re working. If there’s no way you can have a standing desk, use a stability ball instead of a chair from time to time; this will mean you can’t slump when sitting; you have to be more mindful and aware of what your body is doing, which will mean you move more.
Walk and talk. Whether you’re taking work meetings or arranging to meet a friend, suggest going for a walk rather than sitting about, drinking coffee. If you’re meeting a friend for a chat do you really want to do that in a noisy coffee shop or outside in the fresh air? Speak to people at your place of work and see if they would be open to holding walking meetings; you might be surprised by their response!
Use your electronic fitness tracker to your advantage. Many fitness trackers will have a section in the app where you can set your “active” hours, and it will then target you to take a certain number of steps within each of those hours. Some will even vibrate on your wrist to remind you to get up and move. You might think that’s a little over the top, but it’s easy to get drawn into what we’re doing, then look up and find three hours have passed.
Get active while watching TV. After a busy day at work it can be tempting to just collapse onto the sofa in front of the TV. There’s always a new season of our favourite TV show to watch, and with online streaming it’s easy to sit down for several hours at a time watching episode after episode. Turn it into a game where every time there’s an ad break or the credits roll at the end of an episode, you do something active. This can be great for getting small jobs done like taking things up and down the stairs or putting away laundry. You could even set up the ironing board in your living room, and plough through the ironing while you watch your favourite show.
There are plenty of ways to ensure you’re being active throughout your life, rather than just for a couple of hours a week at the gym. It’s fine to sit down and relax from time to time – just try to make sure it’s not all the time!