What are some tips for reducing sedentary behaviors to get more exercise?

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People often look at exercise as a time-wasting nuisance. Since 1995 the common recommendation has been that adults obtain at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on 5 or more days a week, for a total of at least 150 minutes a week. Remember that 30 minutes does not have to be consecutive. You can go for a brisk 15 minute walk before breakfast and after dinner. Many employers now encourage walking meetings, so instead of sitting at a desk, why not discuss work initiatives during a walk. Instead of sitting in a lunch room, or at your desk, eat lunch then go for a walk for the remainder of your lunch hour. 


During the evening hours, instead of watching TV from the couch, do sit-ups and push-ups during commercial breaks, or watch and episode standing up. During the show, do lunges and squats to work the legs. If you do this through two TV shows you will be getting a good 60 minute workout. The bottom line, you can always find ways to add exercise into activities of daily living.  

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You have heard it before, but heart health really does require that you eat right and exercise. The good news is that with exercise, even small changes count, and they build upon one another.
You can start by reducing sedentary behaviors. Anything that requires that you sit still for a prolonged period of time is a sedentary behavior. These activities include watching television, playing video games, using the computer, or reading. Cutting back on these activities will almost certainly make you move your body more throughout the day, which helps you meet the minimum physical activity needed for heart health.
  • While it is sometimes necessary and enjoyable to watch television, use the computer, or read, build 10-minute breaks into your sedentary time to take a walk around the block or walk up and down a flight of stairs.
  • During television commercial breaks, do a series of strength building exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, leg lunges, and leg squats. You can also use household items such as water bottles as weights to tone your arm muscles while watching television.
  • Save your television watching or magazine reading for the gym. Use a stationary bike or treadmill with a television attached, or download your favorite shows if you have a video mp3 player such as an iPod and bring it with you. It may help motivate you to want to be active.
  • Make it a habit to take the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator.
  • Instead of trying to park closest to the store entrance, aim to park as far away as you can and try to enjoy the walk.
Note: Before you increase your level of physical activity, discuss your exercise plan with your physician.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.