Ever wondered how much exercise you need to balance out the day you spent sitting at your computer for work? It’s no mystery that being sedentary for huge periods of time isn’t good for you. In fact, it’s horrible for you. If I were to tell you to tell you that sitting all day long is bad for you, you’d be kind if your reaction was just “duh, Joe”. Some of us even know how bad it is for us. Worse than smoking, according to some doctors. But how much activity to we need to make up for our sitting-based lifestyles?
How Much Exercise You Need Depends on Who You Ask
If you ask a health expert “how much exercise do you need to make up for my desk job?”, you’ll likely be told that it just doesn’t work that way. You have to get up ideally every half hour, but every hour at a bare minimum. Get up, stretch, and do something very active to get your blood pumping.
This has always made me picture all my blood pooling inside my feet, and my physical activity is what gets the blood pump circulating it throughout my body instead. How long do I want to go with all that blood in my feet instead of in my lungs, brain, heart, and other internal organs? Not long!
Still, that’s not exactly how things work. I mean, we wouldn’t last long if you were asking how much exercise you need to stop your feet from filling up with blood while your brain is rapidly deprived of oxygen…
Equally, it’s a mental image that works for me. After a certain amount of time goes by, I feel motivated to get those vital fluids circulating up to where they need to be.
What Real Research Says
At the same time, new research has started showing how much exercise we really need to counteract the negative health impact of sitting at a desk all day long. A meta-analysis that examined 9 prior studies indicated that exercising about 30 to 40 minutes will do the trick. This doesn’t mean a slow stroll down the road. It means moderate to vigorous activity.
The research stated that this amount of time at that workout intensity should be enough to offset the 10 hours of sitting still you’re doing per day.
Still…Do Get Up!
Even if you feel you are getting enough exercise for what you need to counterbalance your daily seated job, it’s still a good idea to get up. As much as reasonably possible, stand up and stretch. Walk around if you can. March on the spot. Do a few reaches.
When you can, you can give yourself an advantage for getting how much exercise you need on a daily basis by parking slightly farther away, getting off the bus a stop early, or just taking the stairs (up or down – they both count!). On your lunch break, take a 5-minute walk if you can. It all adds up.
If you have a fitness tracker, wear it for a couple of days on your usual routine. Then, for a few days following, try out these little techniques for getting up and moving around, even if it’s for 15 to 30 seconds at a time, or walking up the escalator instead of standing on it. At the end of the week, check out the difference in the step totals you get (and heart rate if your tracker has that function). You’ll be amazed at the difference and how quickly you can accumulate an additional 1,000 steps with the tiniest amount of effort.