Do you remember how good it felt when you were a kid and you took off running down a hill for no reason other than you could? Or when you were finally set free from school and made a beeline for the monkey bars?
Didn’t that feel good? You were up and moving, your blood was flowing, and you were smiling…That’s what daily activity does to us. That’s how daily activity makes us feel.
So, I have a question: Why aren’t we doing more of this every day, many times a day—why aren’t we getting up and moving?
I think I know why. We have manufactured daily activity out of our lives. And I think it’s time to put it back in.
I feel strongly about this issue because I have watched first-hand many of my family members, including my mom, become sedentary as they age. And it breaks my heart to see the people I love not able to get around like they used to—to be trapped in their own bodies.
We were born to move.
Our shared history as humans is one of movement.
In the book “Brain Rules,” John Medina says, “We are not used to sitting at a desk for eight hours a day. From an evolutionary perspective, our brains developed while we walked or ran as many as 12 miles a day. The brain still craves this experience.”
He also says, “If you wanted to create a business environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a cubicle.”
Our sedentary lifestyle is literally killing us.
A lack of physical activity is one of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide. This is according to “The Lancet,” one of the world’s oldest and best known general medical journals.
Medical evidence abounds that a sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity can contribute to or be a risk factor for—
• Cardiovascular disease
• Colon cancer
• High blood pressure
• Low back pain
Why aren’t we moving more?
Think about it…If we were meant to move, and if daily movement is vital to our overall health, why aren’t we moving more?
And while we’re thinking about that, let’s think about how much time we spend at work. For those of us who work full time, we spend more than one-third of our day, five days a week, at our jobs. Since we all spend so much time at work, it makes sense to incorporate movement in our workplaces.
Consider the benefits of simply moving more.
• Healthy employees are good for companies.
• Healthy employees reduce health care costs and absenteeism.
• Healthy employees increase productivity and employee morale.
Everyone—including employers, workers, families, and communities—benefits from the prevention of disease and from sustained health.
And it doesn’t take much.
A recent study, also in the “Lancet” medical journal, found that only one hour of activity was needed to offset the harmful effects of sitting at a desk.
And notice that I said, “activity.” I did not say “exercise.” Although exercise is good, and I recommend it, all we really need to do is to move more.
Think of all the benefits of simply moving more:
• Control our weight
• Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
• Reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes
• Reduce the risk of some cancers
• Strengthen bones and muscles
• Improve our mental health and mood
• Increase our chances of living longer
So how do we get from being sedentary at work to being more active?
We ACT! And we act NOW.
• We don’t wait for our employer to roll out a wellness program.
• We don’t wait for our moms to nag us into doing it.
• We don’t wait for a government program.
Everyone has the power to lead and make changes.
We can all come up with ways to move more at work every day. We can do this for ourselves and our colleagues.
1. Start with a simple thing like standing when you take a call and encourage others to do so too.
2. The next time someone comes in your office to talk, suggest you walk and talk and then DO IT.
3. Sit on a swiss ball instead of a chair. This will take some getting used to—trust me.
4. Get up and walk to a colleague down the hall instead of sending an email.
5. Print on the printer down the hall.
6. Schedule 10–minute walk breaks every hour or so.
7. Park further away from the entrance.
8. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
9. Use a standing desk.
10. Use a treadmill desk.
All these activities will lead to you and your colleagues being healthier, happier, and more productive. And it just might make you feel like a kid again.