Did you know the amount of time spent being inactive is just as important for your heart health as the amount of time spent being active? Physical activity is highly recommended to reduce the risk of heart disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Similarly, the American Heart Association encourages Americans to move more and sit less. These messages all seek to encourage increasing the amount of time spent being physically active and reducing the amount of time being inactive.
Harm of Inactivity
Due to the nature of work and home environments, the amount of time spent in sedentary activities or “sitting” accounts for a significant portion of the day. Inactive lifestyles are harmful to heart health. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans published by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, adults and children spend over seven hours a day being sedentary. These long periods of “sitting” have been linked to increased risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Examples of sitting activities at work may include working at the computer or sitting at a meeting. It also includes watching television, sitting during long car rides, or engaging in other activities that involve sitting. Learning to be conscious of how much time is spent on sedentary activities is key in making improvements. Identifying those times and developing and implementing strategies to reduce your sitting time, can improve your overall heart health.
While at work:
- Set a reminder to stand up from your desk or computer every 30-60 minutes and take a walk down the hall.
- Build-in physical activity breaks during long meetings. Encourage participants to stand up, stretch, and move around the room.
- Configure your workspace to allow you to stand up and work at the computer.
- Take phone calls standing up.
- Include some physical activity during your lunch break by jogging up and down the stairs or walking around a building or parking lot.
- Read DeskFit published by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for exercise ideas at your desk.
While at home:
- Go for a walk after dinner and/or before you sit down to watch television.
- Stand up and move during commercial breaks.
- Include physical activity throughout the day through chores, workout routines, or other activities.
- Consider new hobbies that encourage you to move more. Gardening, hiking, or even window shopping at the mall can be fun activities.
- Connect physical activity with quality time with family and friends (backyard games, group walks, etc.)
When traveling by car:
- During long trips, schedule breaks to get out of a car and move around.
- Try to have enough legroom to do small stretches and periodically shift positions.
Visit these sites to obtain more information on being physically active.