We were born to keep moving. But with so much of modern life encouraging sedentary behaviour, simply getting up and moving to break up long periods of sitting or lying down can have a major impact on your health. Research shows that a highly sedentary lifestyle negatively impacts health regardless of other factors, including body weight, diet and physical activity. It's an unnatural state for any organism and creates a level of stagnation that impedes full function of all bodily systems, all of which rely on movement to some degree.
One study of around 17,000 Canadian adults found that those who spent most of their time sitting were 50 per cent more likely to die during the 12-year follow-up than those who sat the least, even after controlling for such things as age, smoking and physical activity levels.1
There's been a good deal of press on the current trend for short bursts of high-intensity training that significantly raises heartbeat, but a movement break from sitting or lying doesn't need to be so intense to reap benefits. Simply sending signals to the body that physical movement is happening is a call to engage metabolism, prompt circulation from the lower body and legs, and create lymphatic flow to boost immunity. Alternating sitting with any kind of spontaneous physical activity also wakes up the brain, and aids cognition and motivation.
As a simple break from work, try:
• Going for a walk, if possible, in nature, for oxygenation and stress relief
• Walking up and down stairs for five minutes
• Light jogging or running, or even a walk-jog: walk for one minute, jog for one minute, then alternate for as many minutes as you have
• Lie on the floor and cycle your legs in the air.
Sequences for full body movement
The following three five-minute sequences can be done either singly or strung together as a complete session. Doing them separately across the day to break up periods of sedentary sitting can get into all the nooks and crannies where tension is building.