Why movement breaks matter

By Kayla Hartson
Student Fitness Program Coordinator

According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is one of the leading risk factors for death worldwide. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that only one in three adults meets the recommended amount of physical activity each week, revealing that most Americans live very sedentary lifestyles.

Our fast paced, technology-driven culture allows us to get almost everything we need with little physical effort. We work from our computers all day, order anything we need online, visit the drive-through for dinner, and unwind from the day by sitting in front of the television. Sometimes the entire day passes, and we haven’t stepped away from our computer or couch once!  

Research shows that sedentary behavior can lead to health issues such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. One study concluded that adults who sat for 7 or more hours per day had a much higher risk of all-cause mortality compared to adults who sat for less than 7 hours per day (Chau et al, 2013).

If you exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, that does not necessarily mean you are off the hook. Another study concluded that excessive sedentary time is linked to poor health outcomes regardless of how physically active a person might be (Dempsey et al, 2014).

The evidence in this study compared a single 30-minute bout of exercise followed by 8-plus hours of sitting to 9 hours of sitting interrupted with 1- to 2-minute bouts of walking every 30 minutes. The group that walked every 30 minutes reported health improvements such as reductions in blood sugar in insulin levels.

In conclusion, physical activity is needed for optimal health but is not enough overcome the risks of long periods of uninterrupted sitting. The less sitting time, the better. Our bodies are meant to move!

Adding movement breaks into your day to avoid long periods of sedentary activity can be easy. It is important to avoid approaching it with the “all-or-nothing” mindset. Start small with an activity as simple as walking around your house every 30 minutes. Some movement is better than nothing at all!

Here are a few ideas to help you stay moving throughout the day:

  • Take your morning coffee to go – take a walk around the block.
  • Go for a walk around your neighborhood after each meal.
  • Walk and talk – take a walk whenever you are on a phone call.
  • Listen to your activity tracker – get up and move when it tells you to … even if it’s only for 2 minutes!
  • Stretch while you watch TV.
  • Set reminders on your computer or phone to take a movement break every 30 minutes (again, 1-2 minutes is all it takes).
  • Climb the stairs in your house for your movement break (2-5 minutes every 30 minutes)

Follow our Instagram account, @sfc.gcu for more tips on exercise and living a healthy lifestyle!

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References:

Chau, J. Y., Grunseit, A. C., Chey, T., Stamatakis, E., Brown, W. J., Matthews, C. E., … Ploeg, H. P. V. D. (2013). Daily Sitting Time and All-Cause Mortality: A Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE8(11). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080000

Dempsey, P. C., Owen, N., Biddle, S. J. H., & Dunstan, D. W. (2014). Managing Sedentary Behavior to Reduce the Risk of Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease. Current Diabetes Reports14(9). doi: 10.1007/s11892-014-0522-0

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May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)

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