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Are You an Active Couch Potato?

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity per week. For some of us, that means hitting the gym for 30 minutes a day to “knock it out” before work or maybe going on a moderate-intensity walk. Although doing this might check the box of hitting your weekly physical activity goal, a new study has shown that it is also important to move throughout the day. Many of us, after that morning walk or gym session, go to work and sit for 8-10 hours just to come home and sit some more.

A study was published last year by the American College of Sports Medicine that showed it is important to our cardiometabolic health to move throughout the day. Cardiometabolic health describes a combination of multiple risk factors that include blood sugar, BMI (Body Mass Index), cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

Study Highlights

The study tracked participants during their regular week. At the conclusion of the study, participants were classified into four groups: active couch potatoes, sedentary light movers, sedentary exercisers, and movers. All participants achieved their 150 minutes of physical activity per week goal. People in the active couch potato group, although sufficiently active, were still sedentary for over 10 hours per day. This group had the highest sedentary time and the lowest amount of cumulative activity time. At the other extreme, movers had less sedentary time and accomplished more movement throughout the day. The study found that this increase in movement throughout the day and decrease in sedentary time greatly improved participants’ cardiometabolic markers.

What does that mean for us? Keep up those daily walks, but remember to keep moving all day long. It is essential to take breaks from our sedentary actions to move our bodies.

Easy ways to incorporate movement into your day to decrease your sedentary time:

  • Take a 10-minute movement breaks every hour.
  • Take short walks throughout the day. Even around the office or in the parking lot.
  • Get a workout buddy for accountability and fun! It will be easier to take breaks if you have someone helping you remember to move.
  • Take time to stretch! Even at your desk, here are some easy stretches to do, or maybe take time for chair yoga.
  • Choose some bodyweight exercises to increase your resistance training throughout the week. If you do a couple of exercises per hour, it really adds up!

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