If you’re like a lot of people, you don’t move as much as you should. The average American spends at least 10 hours a day doing sedentary activities: watching TV, surfing the Internet, talking on the phone, and reading. All of this sitting still can make diabetes harder to control. According to the January 2012 issue of the Journal of Preventive Medicine, women who sit for prolonged periods of time are more likely to have increased insulin resistance and chronic inflammation. The more you sit, the worse it gets.
Another study found that adults who sit for 11 hours or more on a daily basis have a 40 percent greater risk of dying in the next three years than people who spend less than four hours a day in a chair. Joshua Margolis, owner of Mind Over Matter Health & Fitness, an in-home personal training service in New York City, offers these tips for how you can fit in fitness outside the gym.
10 Ways to Get Fit on Your Own Time
1. Hook a pedometer onto your body.
”Studies show that when people are keeping track of their steps, they tend to walk more,” Margolis says. You can even get into a friendly competition with a spouse or coworker to rack up the most steps in a day or a week. There are dozens of inexpensive but reliable pedometers for under $20.
2. Don’t waste commercial time.
While watching TV, get up and do a minute of jumping jacks or a minute of knee raises every time a commercial comes on. Researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville studied 23 men and women ages 18 to 65 and found that stepping in place during commercials burned an average of 148 calories in about 25 minutes. Just sitting and watching TV for an hour burned only 81 calories.
3. Be inefficient.
Do you have loads of laundry to haul upstairs or downstairs? Take one basket—or handful of clothes—at a time. Do you have groceries to carry in from the car? Don’t tote them all at once. Deliberately break up daily tasks so you make multiple, frequent trips.
4. Do all your own household chores.
Clean the house, mow the lawn (don’t use a riding mower!), rake leaves, and wash your car by hand. “Reaching, twisting, stretching, lifting—it’s all a calorie burn,” Margolis says. Instead of using a mop on your floors, try using some elbow grease. You can burn about 180 calories in just 30 minutes.
5. Get up often from your desk.
Move more at work by standing during meetings or holding a meeting while walking. When time permits, deliver your message in person, not via e-mail. “Get up and go. I don’t care if it’s a floor up, a floor down, or even more,” Margolis says. “Get out of your seat, walk up, and tell them in person.”
6. Find a new chair.
Swap your regular chair for a stability ball to help build strength in your core muscles. Unless you’re very fit, Margolis says, you probably won’t be able to do it for more than an hour at a time, but that’s an hour during which your body is active even while “at rest.”
7. Set an alarm.
Whether you’re working or browsing websites, set an alarm on your computer or tablet for every 50 minutes. “We shouldn’t be sitting for more than 60 minutes at a time,” Margolis says. When the alarm goes off, get up, stretch, and walk around for a few minutes.
8. Start your day with a quick walk around the block.
Nothing intense, nothing long—just a brisk walk to get you going. Leave your walking shoes by the door before bed so you’ll be ready. Listen to your favorite morning news program.
9. Sit and stretch.
Do a lower-body yoga position to build leg strength, Margolis says. Try a seated version of the eagle pose: Sit on a couch or chair with your feet flat on the floor; cross your right leg over your left, resting your right foot behind the left calf. Hold for 10-15 seconds, and repeat several times on each leg.
10. Park the cart for quick trips.
If you need just a handful of items at the grocery store, take two reusable bags and throw them over your shoulders. Put your food in the bags as you shop. While you wait to pay, hold the bags by your sides and do shoulder shrugs.