Cut disease and death risk by adding short “bursts” of activity to your day

Dear Reader,

As I often report, research shows getting 140 to 150 minutes of light-to-moderate physical exercise per week can dramatically cut your disease risk and increase your lifespan.

But if you spend the rest of your week sitting slumped at your desk…vegging on the couch…or lounging in bed…you might counter some of those important health benefits.

So, today, let’s talk about 10 ways to reduce sedentary (sitting) time and add some short “bursts” of activity to your day…

Reduce the amount of time you spend sitting

According to some estimates, Americans spend up to 10 hours a day sitting. And that’s not good—because research links spending more than four hours a day to:

  • Reductions in metabolic rate
  • Disruptions to blood sugar levels
  • Increased insulin and blood pressure levels
  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint problems

So, how can you cut back on your daily sedentary time?

Well, first and foremost, try to get outdoors in Nature as much as possible. Walk to the mailbox. Take out the trash. Do some work in the garden. Go visit a neighbor or walk the dog after dinner.

Not only will this activity cut down on your sedentary time, it will expose you to all the mind-body benefits of being in Nature.

Second, when you must remain indoors or when you’re out running errands, try these approaches:

  • Get colleagues to go along with you for walking meetings.
  • When you’re on the phone, get up and walk around. (Preferably outside!)
  • Make it a habit to stand up and stretch every hour during the day. (You can use an alarm on your electronic device.)
  • Instead of eating out or ordering takeout (as became a habit during the pandemic) make meals at home—this will get you standing.
  • Park at the far end of the parking lot to increase the distance to your destination.
  • Stand instead of sit at your kids’ or grandkids’ sporting events.
  • Always take the stairs, instead of the elevator.
  • Take the long route to the restroom or breakroom.
  • Keep the TV out of your bedroom so that you don’t increase your sedentary time in bed.
  • If you have a dog, walk them daily. If you don’t have a dog, consider adopting one!

Last but not least, you can consider using a “standing desk.” Donald Rumsfeld (1932-2021) famously used a standing desk in his office while serving as Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon (1975-1977 and 2001-2006). Both my wife and I saw him at his standing desk during his tenure there.

This simple set-up reduced Rumsfeld’s sedentary time and helped keep his meetings shorter.

Of course, Rumsfeld had one of the most stressful jobs on the planet (twice in his career) and was near his 90th birthday when he passed away last year. So, one can only assume the standing desk helped keep the stress of the job at a manageable level.