Exercise can play a pivotal role in your health journey. At Noom, we’re big believers in finding sustainable, joyful ways to move your body—and enjoying the benefits. We’re not just talking about burning more calories. Movement can also improve your blood sugar levels, your mood, and even your judgment. But even if you’ve gotten good at making time for exercise, sedentary habits can still get in the way of your health goals.
Some of the most common sedentary habits are:
- Sitting for extended periods of time.
- Consuming media (e.g. watching TV or using a computer).
- Driving or taking public transit.
- Engaging in seated recreation (e.g. reading or listening to music).
It might come as a shock, but research shows that too much sitting is potentially more harmful than too little exercise. Though our bodies are constantly burning calories—even while sitting or lying down—we’re using much less energy sitting than we are while standing or walking. That’s part of why the amount of time spent engaging in sedentary behaviors is associated with increased risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and death.
Do you ever find yourself feeling too achey, fatigued, or unfocused to make food choices that align with your goals? That may be partly due to those pesky sedentary habits. Their many effects include neck, shoulder, and back problems; tight hips and glutes; poor leg circulation; softening bones; and poor concentration.
Structured physical activity (like working out or going for a walk) is important. But what we do outside of our structured physical activity can affect our health even more.
If you spend much of your day sedentary, you’re not alone. Research shows that two out of three adults watch more than two hours of TV or videos per day, and one out of four of adults spend more than two hours on the computer every day—not including work!
The good news is that no matter how ingrained a sedentary habit is, you can always start building healthier habits.
If you feel like starting to chip away at your sedentary habits might be right for you, here are some active tweaks you can make that’ll decrease your sedentary time and kick your health journey into higher gear.
1. Walk or bike to work if possible.
2. Get off a stop early if you’re using public transportation.
3. Park a few minutes away from your work if you’re driving.
4. Get up once every hour to walk and stretch your legs.
5. Schedule walking or standing work meetings.
6. Stretch your neck, shoulders, back and hips at your desk once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
7. Use a standing desk, if you have access to one.
8. Spend half of your lunch break taking a brisk walk in the neighborhood.
9. Spend quality time with your family by taking a walk rather than sitting inside.
10. Walk around your house while talking on the phone.
11. Do bodyweight exercises like squats, push-ups, and crunches, in between episodes of shows or during commercials.
12. Walk up and down the stairs a few times for each 20 minutes you spend looking at your phone screen.
13. Cut down your screen time by 15 minutes each week.
The rest of your life
14. Take up active hobbies like hiking, biking, or dancing .
15. Make active plans with your family and friends, such as bowling or skating, rather than going out to eat.
16. Go for a walk along a scenic route instead of driving.
17. Meet a friend for a walk rather than going for coffee.
18. Spend a few hours walking around a museum or art gallery rather than going to the movies.
Choose whatever activities feel most joyful to you. And while you’re at it, see if you can follow the 10:2 rule. It’s simple: move for an average of 10 minutes every 2 hours.
You might choose to walk around for 2 1/2 minutes every half hour or take a 15-minute break every 3 hours. You decide. (And you do the math. Sorry, we do psychology—not math.) Make a plan in advance for how you’re going to get that movement in, and set an alarm for when it’s time.
This is just a small taste of how you might incorporate more movement into your personal journey. The Noom Weight program is focused on helping you build healthier habits and a healthier relationship with food, and it also includes lots more guidance on pursuing joyful movement. Take our quiz to see how the Noom Weight program can help you reach your goals.