Stand more, move more, sit less

Golf is good, it means I get some fresh air and exercise, take my mind off work and see some of the landscape of the place I'm visiting.

Harry Connick, Jr.

It’s accepted more and more that our lifestyles are at the root of most of our

major health conditions  hence why more and more we shall see doctors make

healthy lifestyle prescriptions.


It’s true, too, that in this information age, more of us, especially those who

work from home, are leading sedentary lives. Sedentary lifestyles lead to chronic

pain and obesity and mental health issues, but recent research shows there's

evidence to support that even the timing of sitting can affect metabolic health

and provide us with a risk of diabetes.


Sedentary lifestyle is a medical term used to describe a lifestyle with little or no

physical activity. It is commonly found in both the developed and developing

world, and is characterised by sitting, reading, watching television or using the

computer for much of the day, with little or no vigorous physical exercise.


Not all of us choose a sedentary lifestyle; in my own case, neuropathic feet and leg pain, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, make it difficult to bend and move, I can only walk, presently, for about ten minutes before having to give in, vigorous exercise is now impossible so I resort to a little light walking and some gentle swimming. But I meet many people far more severely debilitated and notice that some simply give in to their conditions whilst others make every effort humanly possible to remain as mobile and agile as possible.


If I have a day working from home, I set an alarm to ensure that at least every half hour I get up and move or do something on the move for at least five minutes.


Always find time for play

One of the best articles I have ever found on this topic, I found on the Blue Zones website.

Health Hazards of too much sitting and Tips for getting more movement

To read about the health hazards of excessive sitting and how you could try to integrate more movement into your life, read here.

Consequences of a sedentary lifestyle include:

  • Anxiety

  • Boredom

  • Cardiovascular (heart and circulation) issues

  • Depression

  • Diabetes

  • Hypertension

  • Leg muscle atrophy … a wasting of muscles when they are unused for long periods of

  • Less fun

  • Lost productivity

  • Lower back, hip, and spinal issues

  • Metabolic syndrome

  • Obesity

  • Poorer relationships

  • Sleep

  • Stroke

  • Unconscious overeating

  • Vein related health issues


As far as our eye health is concerned, long hours behind a digital device can cause eyestrain, which contributes to myopia (or near-sightedness). If a sedentary lifestyle leads to obesity or even diabetes, permanent vision loss can result.

Making sure you get enough activity


Do you need to make an attitude switch? Notice the language you use to describe the aspects of life that may involve exercise, movement, aerobics, etc Does the language turn you off? If the word “exercise” makes exercise not appeal to you and make you think of sweaty sessions in the gym, could you create a different image with more acceptable words? Perhaps you might think of golf and being out in the fresh air with one or two close friends. Or the idea and vision of a little home gym where you can skip or do some dumb bells in private is more preferable? For me, my vision at one point was me in a swimming pool with as little noise and activity as possible. I found the times of day when the pool was mostly empty, there were no screaming, diving children, nor were there any aqua-aerobics. Just me and the pool.


The key is to choose perhaps a range of ways in which you can build in more activity and movement but make them fun; if you do not enjoy them you are unlikely to stick with them.


If you have been inactive for a while, you may need to choose your form of movement carefully and start slowly. You can then add, if you like, tougher and more exercise gradually. The more you can do, the better. But try not to feel overwhelmed, and do only what you can. Getting some exercise is always better than getting none.


Recently I was recommended to take up an eight week “Back to Action” programme of light exercises at my local physiotherapy department. My initial reaction was to assume this meant something akin to schooltime gym, heavy duty exercises and so on. But I was delightfully relieved to discover that the exercises were not only simple, but could be adapted to do at home. And doong them in the company of 20 others in the same boat supported me to really want to get the most out of the programme.

Exercises include eg


  • Toes. Stand behind a chair. Using the top of the chair for support, raising yourself up on your toes, hold for a few seconds, back to ground Repeat x 20.

  • Dumbbells. Sit on a chair. Have one dumbbell in each hand or use a can of beans! Lift  the hands upwards towards your chest then back. Repeat x 20

  • Knees Up. Sit on a chair. Bending the right knee, lift right leg up as far as you can. The do the same with the left. 10 repeats in total.

  • Step Up. At the bottom of a staircase, put right foot on the step, then left foot, release right foot back to ground, then release left foot. Repeat x 20.  (If no stairs, do you have a firm wooden step or box?)

  • Door. Stand with your left side to the door and put your left hand onto the door knob. Now lift your right leg outwards as far as is           comfortable then back to resting position. Repeat x 5

               Now turn with the right side to the door. Put your right hand on the door knob. Lift your left leg outwards as far as is                                      comfortable then back to resting position. Repeat x 5

               Repeat for a further 3 repetitions ie a total of two to the right and two to the left.

  • Backward lift. Stand behind a chair for support. Then, alternating left then right, do 20 repetitions of lifting your leg backward ie lifting foot off the ground backwards, bending at the knee.

  • Arms fold. Sit on a chair. Fold your arms. Taking care, stand up without using your arms or hands for support. Be seated. Repeat x 20

  • Heel & toe. Hold on to a door with your right hand. Now push leg out in front of you and put your heal on the ground. Lift leg backwards and put your toe on the ground. Repeat x 20.

  • Toe stretch. Sit on a chair. Stick out your right leg about a foot off the floor. Pull your right toes back towards your chest. Hold for five. Rest the leg. Stick out the left leg  about a foot off the floor and pull left toes backward to chest. Hold for five.


Eventually, your goal can be to get the recommended amount of exercise for your age and health.


Remain active around the home


There are some ways you can remain active around your home:

  1. Get some exercise equipment for your home or garage but think carefully before you commit any money. Less expensive equipment such as yoga balls, exercise mats, stretch bands, and hand weights can help you get a workout at home too.

  2. Go for a walk locally. It can be more fun if you walk your dog, walk your kids to school, or walk with a friend. or join a local walking club

  3. Housework, gardening, and chores around the home are all physical work. To increase the intensity, you could try doing them more frequently or at a more vigorous pace.

  4. Keep moving whilst watching TV.  Ironing, folding laundry, lift hand weights, do some gentle yoga stretches, some qi gong, or pedal an exercise bike. Instead of using the TV remote, actually stand up and change the channels manually. You may become more selective in your viewing habits!

  5. Practise a simple Gi Gong routine each day. I find this one ideal, demonstration with instructions on screen and time to take them in!

  6. Stand up when talking on the phone. Not only do you get a little exercise, apparently your calls become more focussed.

  7. Swim on your own or join a local Splash or Aqua Aerobics club. At home, practise knee bends or arm stretches.

  8. Work out at home with a workout video (on your TV or via YouTube, Vimeo etc )



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