Move It or Lose It

Want a drug-free, none invasive, health cure?

Move more.

And I’m not talking about running marathons or jumping on the P90X bandwagon.  Fidget, sweep the floor more often, shift your weight as you stand and talk to someone.

My grandparents have always been ahead of the curve for health trends so it was no surprise to me when they sent me this article from the New York Times Magazine. The article just reiterates a philosophy that they’ve both intrinsically known and practiced for years; never stop moving.

The article, What’s The Most Unhealthful Thing You Do Every Day, delves into research proving that the key to decreasing risk of disease, weight, and illness is to simply stay in motion.

Well, yeah, of course, what’s new about this information, right?

What’s new is that the research proved that structured exercise is not as important as all the small movements we do-or don’t do-throughout the day.   Sitting relatively still, like while at your computer or in front of the television, causes your metabolism to immediately nose dive into a calorie burn of about 1 per minute.  Even scarier, inactivity messes with your ability to break down harmful fats which in turn drops your levels of good cholesterol.

Half-way through the article I was still feeling pretty cocky; “but I exercise everyday so a few hours at the computer and a few hours of television watching won’t really hurt me”.  But no.

“Being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterward or hit the gym.  It is bad whether you are morbidly obese or marathon-runner thin.”  

Even more alarming, “each additional hour of television a person sat and watched per day, the risk of dying rose by 11 percent.”  YIKES!

Sure, exercising regularly puts me ahead of the curve in lots of ways but this article reminded me that the small bursts of activity count as much as the big ones.

I am grateful that I only sit at a desk three days a week but even that feels like too much.  The ball has helped tremendously, I fidget more, stand up more, and even occasionally throw in a few crunches. 😉  At home I try to break up my sedentary time by taking frequent stand-up breaks and fit in more activity by using the upstairs bathroom or taking a few extra minutes to clean the kitchen.

The article describes a calorie burn chart that showed a huge spike when the participant reached down to tie his shoe, once again demonstrating that every movement counts.

I’m off to clean the office, answer the phone standing up, and bounce on my ball.


  1. set2music

    This article cements my frustration with work. I like my job, but have def gained about 7 lbs since starting back in an office. Ugh!!

    • 🙁 I know but can you at least walk to the water cooler every 15 minutes or something? And then walk to the bathroom every half hour because you drank so much water? 😉

  2. Wow! I never would’ve thought that the casual movements matter more than “real” exercise. Crazy! I do work in an office, but I am moving around in and out all the time, so I’m happy about that. Now I’ll make sure I do more of that!!

    • YES! Thank you for sharing, I totally agree, especially if I am hitting a late afternoon slump or just having a low energy day. Moving is energizing and invigorating, not to mention the HUGE mental/emotional benefits!

  3. Oh, indeed! Sitting is such a drag!

    I love the reminder that even small movements make a difference. Whether it’s a walk to a colleague’s desk (rather than an email or an IM) or a walk around the building at lunch, it helps keep us healthy….

    Great article, thanks for sharing!

    • I feel like “they” have been telling us for ages to move more but this article really hits home the message that you can’t completely counteract being sedentary with formal exercise. Glad you enjoyed it!

  4. I love this! I was a second grade teacher and during most of the day I would let the kids stand behind their desk to work (as long as the pushed their chair in first so that I did not crash and burn right there in the classroom). For some kids that made learning much easier for them. As a teacher I was in constant motion. I liked that, but it usually led to me sitting for long hours at night.

    Today I work on my feet for 5 hours at a time, but when I work at my computer I try to get up often, go upstairs often, etc.

  5. Great post, great article. It makes so much sense! It kind of reminds me of a book, Spark, by John Ratey, which explores the physiological side of movement and exercise, specifically on the brain. Get up, people!

  6. Carol

    Thanks for sharing! I rarely sit down during the day:) As a teacher I have to be up and moving or that’s when trouble starts. Besides I like to be right in with the kids and seeing what they are doing. I have my desk shoved way in the corner out of the way so we have room to move!
    Have a great one!

  7. I have always known that sitting at a desk all day is not good, but I also thought that the exercising I do balances it out. But it doesn’t! Thanks for posting this and the link to the article. Very interesting. I have a ball I sit on at work. I got it because I knew it would help me sit up straight. It is so much more comfortable than a chair! I also have a geek desk. It’s a sit/stand desk. This thing is amazing. I can’t even explain how much better I feel after a day at work when I can alternate between standing and sitting. Here is a post I wrote about the desk…

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