It is essential for humans of all ages to move during the day. Having a physical activity from a young age is extremely important for the child’s healthy growth and development and helps maintain a healthy lifestyle as an adult1. In fact, Health Canada encourages regular physical activity during childhood. It helps boost strength, heart health and bone density, and thus helps prevent chronic disease later in life1.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity are among the top 10 causes of death and disability in the world, and they increase the risk of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression and anxiety.
The WHO considers the sedentary lifestyle which affects 60% to 85% of the world population to be one of the most serious public health problems of our time.
It estimates that two thirds of children are insufficiently active, which will have serious implications for their health in the future2.
For their part, Canadians apparently spend nearly two-thirds of their waking hours being physically inactive3. Of course, the arrival of new technologies has undeniably been a main contributor. The Institut de la statistique du Québec has found that recreational activities related to screens is widespread among young people. More than 9 out of 10 youngsters spend at least one hour a week in front of the computer (95%) or television (94%)4.
We tend to do less physical effort, both at work and leisure. For example, simply spending all those working hours sitting up, staring at your computer could be one of the reasons why several chronic illnesses are on the rise.
There are many ways in which physical activity can be integrated into our daily lives. It doesn’t need to be very intense and difficult, sometimes simply taking a few more steps during the day will do. Physical activity gives us energy, reduces stress and makes us stronger. It also helps prevent diseases such as cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.
That is why we’ve decided to list some of the things you can do to move a little more during the day.
1- Set a goal
Becoming aware of the problem and trying to solve it is a great step towards the solution. So setting a goal with an achievable number of steps per day is terrific.
Based on numerous studies, the WHO and the American Heart Association recommend 10,000 steps per day5, a goal that meets public health standards which prescribe at least 30 minutes of moderate daily activity6 to improve health condition and stay fit.
Various studies report that health benefits are gained from 7,500 steps in a day: increased metabolism and energy, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, body mass index, blood pressure and waist size6.
For more sedentary people, targeting 7,500 steps would therefore be more realistic.
To achieve that, you can simply do your errands on foot rather than taking the car. You can go for a walk outside during your lunch time at work. Or you can even sign up for a class you enjoy a few times a week. The important thing is to set a goal and try to achieve it. As time goes on, you can push your limits further.
2- Trade the elevator for the stairs
Instead of taking the elevator at the office, the mall or the condo, take the stairs to muscle your thighs and buttocks. This will allow you to do more steps and achieve goals such as mentioned above, in addition to keeping your muscles fit!
3- At work, stop and get up
When you’re at work, take a few minutes once every hour to stretch or go to the kitchen to fill your water bottle in order to stretch your legs. If you work in a sitting position, you can get a fitness ball to improve your posture or get up and go see your colleagues directly instead of sending them an email. These are simple but effective tips to increase your physical activity and reduce the frequency of inactivity periods.
4- Stand in public transportation
When using public transportation, it is recommended to give up your seat to others and stand. This works your body muscles and keeps you from sitting down yet again. You may also make someone happy if they’ve had a hard day or if they are older.
5- Make household tasks more enjoyable
Need to clean the house? Why not take this opportunity to listen to your favourite music to which your body will move to the rhythm? This is one more reason to move and have fun doing an otherwise boring task. You can even try it as a family, it will make the activity that much more fun!
6- Do an activity with the children
We know that children need to move for a healthy development. Nowadays, they don’t go outside as much to play, enthralled with screens inside the house.
So forcing them to play outside is not only perfect for them, it’s also great for the parents. When kids go outside to build a snowman or play basketball, go with them! Go get some fresh air and stretch your legs, even if the day was exhausting. And if you don’t have children, it’s simple! Ask your nephews/nieces or even the young neighbour to come play outside. They will certainly be thrilled!
- Choi BC 1, Pak AW, Choi JC, Choi EC. Daily step goal of 10,000 steps: a literature review. Clin Invest Med. 2007;30(3):E146-51