How to Overcome a Sedentary Lifestyle
Heidi Zwart
sedentary lifestyle

With the rise of technology and automation, our lives have become increasingly sedentary. “Sitting disease” is the primary contributor to the all-time high in obesity and other major health conditions, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer. With a few changes in your day it’s possible to overcome the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. 

Don’t stop with exercise

Even if you have a great fitness routine, you may need to add more movement to your day to overcome the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. Formal exercise has great benefits and reduces some health risks, but if you stop moving after your training session, you reduce some of the benefits of exercise, especially if you sit for more than 10 hours. Johns Hopkins cardiologist Erin Michos, M.D., M.H.S. suggests that for every 20 minutes of sitting, you stand for eight minutes and move around for two minutes. Being intentional about movement beyond your workout will help you overcome the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle.

Track your movement

Even with good intentions, you don’t often move as much as you think. Rather than guessing how much you move during the day, track it. Use an accurate fitness tracker to record your daily movement along with your formal exercise. Aim to close the rings on your Apple Watch or hit your daily step goal on your Fitbit. While fitness trackers aren’t perfectly accurate, they do provide a good baseline measurement and unbiased recording of your normal movement patterns so you know how to adapt them to overcome the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle.  

Make excuses

Find a reason to move during your day. Make excuses to get up and walk across the room, climb the stairs, or stretch. To overcome the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle you need to build movement into your everyday habits. Sometimes, your day will demand that you sit more than you’d like. Even on these kinds of days that require back-to-back meetings or lots of time in the car, stand during the meetings or suggest a walking meeting to reap more benefits than just improved physical wellbeing. Focus on your posture while driving and make frequent stops to break up long periods of sitting.

Change your workstation

Stability balls, standing desks, and treadmill desks are a few alternatives to the traditional desk and chair you likely use for work each day. Changing your workstation to encourage standing, balance, and walking is an effective way to overcome the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle without sacrificing productivity or effectiveness at work.

Find a partner

To make progress toward the things that matter most to you, it’s beneficial to build in accountability and relational support. Find a partner who is also committed to sit less and move more to overcome the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. Whether you recruit a co-worker who reminds you to move during your workday or a significant other who commits to walking with you after dinner (or both!), you will reap the benefits of better physical and relational health. 

With some small shifts to your daily routine, you can overcome the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. If you need help, consider partnering with BetterYou to help you prioritize what matters most for you and keep you on track if you begin to drift.  

The BetterYou app uses behavior science to improve digital health and make it stick.

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