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Home   News   How swapping sitting for exercising can improve your life

How swapping sitting for exercising can improve your life

Nov 12, 2015
written by: Catherine Cameron
written by: Catherine Cameron
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Out of that chair! Swap 30 minutes of sitting time for exercise each day and get 182 more hours of exercise in a year…

Canadian adults are sedentary for about 9.5 hours each day – a lot of this the result of our desk jobs, long commutes, and couch time. In the past two years, you’ve likely heard more and more about the perils of sitting… or “sitting disease,” as some now refer to it.

Without question, the long periods we spend sitting do pose a major risk to our health and research now tells us that the hitting the gym, even hitting it hard, for an hour a day does not offset an otherwise sedentary day. In fact, we’d probably be better off breaking up our workout time into three or four smaller workouts spread over our waking hours.

Our sedentary lives put us at risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, elevated cholesterol and countless other chronic conditions and diseases, including some cancers. They may also increase our risk of developing Alzheimer’s diseases and other forms of dementia.

But it’s not just us adults chained to our desks – ask your kids about their days at school and you’ll likely hear about long periods of sitting in the classroom, seated assemblies, outdoor recess that didn’t happen because of a few raindrops, physical education classes that got cancelled for one reason or another, and the list goes on.

The alarm bell on inactivity in Canada sounded years ago, and it’s been ringing ever since. The message has been delivered – but the question is, what are you going to do about it? Today I’m sharing some simple ideas to help you and your family to be more active. Swap just 30 minutes of daily sitting time for physical activity and you’ll get 182 more hours of exercise each year. Easy.

At home:

  1. Limit screen time – for yourself and the kids. That’s right: as of today, everyone gets 30 minutes less per day.
  2. Do your kids earn an allowance? Assign then chores that will get them moving: walking the dog, raking leaves, shoveling the snow, etc.
  3. Get active as a family for 30 minutes a day. Something as simple as walking Fido or rallying on your community courts will do – and bring your closer.
  4. Stop living a life of convenience. If you cut the grass, raked the leaves and cleared the snow off the driveway yourself, you’d save money and be in better shape.
  5. Lose the car keys. Come on, do you really need to drive to the corner store?

At work:

  1. Get off the bus or train a couple of stops early and walk the rest of the way.
  2. Another meeting? Make it a walking one with colleagues.
  3. Coffee break time? Don’t head to the office kitchen for another cup of java, take a brisk walk instead.
  4. Run errands on your lunch break – the change of scene and the exercise will do you good.
  5. Start or join a workplace walking group.

In the community:

  1. Kids playing at the park? Get off that bench, tuck your device into your pocket, and get moving too.
  2. Seated comfortably with your Starbuck’s in hand as you watch little Dylan play tennis? Get off the sidelines and onto the court for some lessons of your own!
  3. Parent-teacher interviews at the local school? Set an example for your kids and their teachers and walk instead of taking the car.
  4. Make a difference by sharing your time, energy and expertise helping others. Volunteering can help you get more exercise.
  5. Join an exercise group, take some tennis lessons, or start a walking group with neighbours.