Did you know that the average working person sits in front of a screen for about 11 hours each day? That means little to no meaningful movement for almost half of every 24-hour period. All that sitting in place for hours at a time may be destroying your health, and predisposing you to heart disease and other degenerative diseases.
More specifically, one of many research studies that tested the effects of sitting, performed at the Universities of Missouri and Southern Mississippi, found shocking results. Sitting for six hours at a time reduced the blood flow of the artery behind the knee by 52%.
Now why are the arteries behind the knees important? With lack of proper blood flow in your legs, you can develop deep vein thrombosis or DVT, which is where a clot forms in the leg from sitting too long. If the clot breaks free, it could lodge in your lungs or cause swelling and pain in the legs. And research shows that sitting in front of a television, a computer, or a smart devices keeps us in the same sitting position much longer than if no “screens” were present.
The good news is that if you get up frequently and walk, then these impairments are immediately reversed. This shows us that the body can recover from the negative effects of sitting – as long as movement is initiated.
12 Ways to Get the Blood Flowing
Here’s a list of ways you can force yourself (gently) to start moving more, breaking up those long periods of sitting during your day at work or at home:
Use your smartphone to set a timer to alert you to get up out of your chair! Do this on a schedule, such as 30 minutes after a meal or on the hour (while awake). If you select random times, it will be more difficult to follow through on this one.
One exercise expert in California teaches his survival class students to do 100 jumping jacks 30 minutes after eating. He states that this is the best way to get the sugar out of the blood from the meal and into the muscles that are demanding it. That’s one way to beat insulin resistance.
Go for a walk with your dog, child, neighbor, or work partner. Don’t think you have to walk at a fast pace, either. Even a slow, consistent pace will return the blood to the state of “flow” in your arteries after sitting.
Make a plan to go for a walk first thing in the morning. Early in the morning you will see the sun – and the sunshine will not only provide you with some extra vitamin D but will activate all your body systems and improve your mood. You can never go wrong with this activity!
Get an indoor bike or treadmill. Peddling or walking/running a mile a day is a great goal if you’re first starting out. You’ll want to increase that goal quickly.
Plan some type of activity with a good friend once a week. Maybe you could hike in a nearby forest for a day and breathe in the forest air with phytoalexins. When you do, it stimulates your natural killer cells and anti-cancer proteins for more than 30 days, according to Japanese researchers. Cortisol levels also will fall and stay lower for more than 30 days as well!
Get a step counter. Step counters or pedometers do the work for you. You simply set the goal for the day and keep an eye on the pedometer to see how close you are to meeting it. This will tell you exactly how much more you need to walk to achieve your goal.
Put your phone five feet away from your desk. Make yourself get up!
Do push-ups on your desk daily. Do the push-ups with your hands on the desk and your feet on the floor.
- When walking down the driveway to pick up your mail, add a walk around the block. Take these few minutes to check up on a neighbor, call your mother, or pray.
Change how you wash your car. Get dancing! Put on loud music and add extra moves like swinging your hips, reaching for the sky, bending at the knees rhythmically, and washing the car in circular motions.
- While grocery shopping, walk purposefully down the wrong aisles to extend the amount of time you’re in the store, and keep the blood flowing. (This tip can be a little dangerous if you have a sweet tooth!)
- Schedule a few extra trips to the bathroom to brush your teeth during the day. By doing this, you’re multi-tasking for your health improvement!
Movement is fun! Start doing it more often and you’ll see how much better your day goes and your body and mind feels!