The Science on How to Offset The Effects of Too Much Sitting

Good news, even short bursts of movement comes with serious benefits.

By: Emily Freeman

Even if you’re active, there’s a good chance you’re spending the majority of the day sitting away. Between school and desk jobs, long commutes, and relaxing with some (seated) screen time or a show, we sit way more often than we should! In fact, according to recent research, 1 in 4 Americans spend more than eight hours per day sitting. There’s also research to suggest sitting for more than 8 hours per day puts us at a higher risk for developing numerous health conditions, such as heart attack and stroke.

And, of course, staying stagnant for prolonged periods of time can lead to muscle aches and spasms (such as low back or neck pain), and lethargy. Simply put, a sedentary lifestyle takes a toll on your health. But, we get it! When you’re working full-time, in school, or simply busy with a full schedule, sometimes sitting for long periods of time is inevitable. Luckily, reversing the effects of too much sitting is easier than you think. Based on recent research, you only need 30 minutes of physical activity to combat the effects of prolonged sitting. 

Ready to stop staying sedentary? Read on for simple lifestyle tips that will help get you moving, grooving, and feeling like your healthiest self.

10 Ways to Get Up and Move For 30-Minutes to Combat Sitting

If you’re tired, busy, and everything in between, we hear you. Luckily, finding time to get up and move is super simple with a little know-how. With these simple movement tips, even the busiest desk workers will start to look forward to sneaking these mini-workouts into a packed day.

#1 Take a Brisk Walk Around the Block 

A mindless way to get in your steps and heart rate up is to get outside for a 10 to 30-minute walk, jog, skip, whatever sounds good. You’ll get your blood moving, and get outside for some fresh air. Plus, vitamin D takes your exercise break to a whole other level (thanks to the stress-busting, energy-boosting benefits of sunshine and nature). Take your dog for a walk, press play on a Walking Fitness workout, or schedule your meeting on the go!

#2 Dance It Out to Your Favorite Playlist 

Is there a better way to work up a sweat and clear your mind than to let loose in your living room? We can’t think of one. You can either go freestyle and let the music move you or press play on one of FitOn’s dance workouts, perfect for all levels. 

#3 Drop and Give Us 10 (or 20) Burpees 

Have a couple minutes between meetings or need a brain dump? Do some Burpees, or any of your favorite exercises, until fatigue. To add an extra challenge, set your timer to go off every hour and do 10 reps of the exercise every time it goes off. It’s a low commitment way to really rack up those exercise minutes. At the office? Start an employee challenge with your co-workers! See who can do the most reps per day — a little friendly competition is always a good motivator!

RELATED: 20 Sneaky Ways to Move More (Even on Your Busiest Days)

#4 Do Squats While You Brush Your Teeth 

Sitting for long periods can wreak havoc on your lower body strength, and no one wants to say goodbye to sculpted legs and a perky booty. Well, you brush your teeth for two minutes… right? Right?? Get in some lower body toning and give your heart rate a boost and do squats or lunges while you shine those pearly whites morning and night!

#5 Make Friends With Your Highest Countertop

Just because you’re at your computer doesn’t mean you have to be sitting. Create a makeshift standing desk by placing your desktop on a higher countertop. Every other hour or so, switch from sitting to standing. It may not be exercise, but it will still combat the musculoskeletal imbalances sitting all day can cause, like tight hip flexors and shoulders. P.S. standing burns more calories than sitting!

#6 Release Tension Head-to-Toe With a Quick Stretch Routine

Sitting for long periods of time can cause muscle tightness that can put you at a higher risk for injury or chronic pain. It’s also mentally draining. Show your muscles and mind some love and take a stretch break focusing on the muscles most affected by poor posture like your hips, hamstrings, shoulders, chest, and neck. Got a few minutes to spare? Make it a mind-body break with this guided neck stretch meditation!

RELATED: 5 Expert Hacks to Ease Stress-Related Aches & Pains

#7 Schedule Your Meetings On-The-Go

And no, we don’t mean while you’re driving, eating, or multi-tasking! We’re talking about transforming your zoom meetings, phone calls, or even your in-person office meetings to walking meetings (when possible, of course). If you’re able to make your conversation mobile, lace up your sneakers and take it outdoors. Need a reason to convince your boss? The fresh air promotes creativity, enhances productivity, and boosts energy!

#8 Make Cleaning Count

Did you know you can torch some major calories by doing chores? It’s true! Let this be your newfound inspiration to get started on that housework you’ve been putting off. Vacuuming, mopping, sweeping, and even organizing the garage or closet (lifting all those boxes) can work up a major sweat. While it might not be the most *exciting* way to get moving, a clean house and healthier you sounds like a win-win to us.

#9 Sweat It Out During Commercial Breaks

We get it — after a long day, sometimes you just want to sit back, relax, and watch some TV. But, if you’ve been sitting all day at work, consider inviting some movement by optimizing your commercial breaks! Whenever a commercial comes on, use it as an opportunity to perform any exercise of choice. Maybe you do several ab sets, hit some pushups, or challenge your roommate or partner to a set of squats or pushups. Have fun with it!

RELATED: 6 Quick Toning Exercises You Can Do Between Commercial Breaks

#10 Walk The Distance

No time for a designated walk? There are plenty of ways to get your steps in to combat the effects of sitting! Whenever you can walk the maximum distance. Park further away from your destination, walk to the bathroom on the opposite end of the building, use the printer on the upstairs floor, take the back entrance — you get the picture! If you make it a habit to add in small bouts of extra movement throughout the day, it adds up!

RELATED: What You Need to Know About Walking For Fitness

A Little Goes a Long Way… Seriously 

The length of a rerun of The Hills, that’s all it takes. All you have to do is get up and move for 30-minutes a day, or even 10-minutes three times per day! However you want to break it up — you got this!