The pandemic brought on many changes in our lifestyle behaviors. Due to social distancing protocols, we saw gyms, parks, and public leisure facilities close early on in the pandemic. One study on the pandemic’s effects on sedentary behavior revealed that most US children spent over eight hours of leisure-related sitting per day. Experts worry that these short-term changes may become permanently entrenched as habits, increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Although adults likely fared better with additional mobility in running errands or going to work, we’ve also spent more time sitting around during the pandemic than we care to admit. With cars, smart home devices, and on-demand delivery, physical activity is increasingly engineered out of our lives, so our default mode is to stay seated.
Many physicians are especially concerned over this phenomenon of inactivity, and aim to provide exercise “prescriptions” through patient counselling. They’re constantly working with health behavior professionals (such as health coaches) and connecting patients to local resources to increase physical activity rates.
Professionals with healthcare experience who specialize in population health management, in particular, base their community health strategies on clinical data. They make recommendations to minimize sedentary behavior by monitoring patients through wearable devices, providing ideas to improve regular exercise, and encouraging even the smallest sign of progress — because just 5 to 10 minutes of extra activity a day can help a lot.
3 Easy Ways to Boost Wellness
So what are some simple ways you can change your lifestyle to be more active? Here are three things you can do:
Make life a little harder for yourself:
We don’t like to move when we’re comfortable, which is why we need to consciously keep ourselves a little uncomfortable. This means taking the stairs instead of taking the elevator, or getting off at the “wrong” train station and walking the rest of the way to work. If you can’t ditch your car, then park a block or two farther than you normally would. It may seem silly to purposely inconvenience yourself, but you have to do whatever it takes to avoid a completely sedentary lifestyle.
Do some joyful movements:
Let’s face it —most exercises are boring and difficult. Plus, it’s hard to find time to squeeze them in on a busy day. Instead, do joyful things like dancing in the kitchen while cooking dinner, copying cheesy 80s aerobics steps, or doing jumping jacks during every commercial break you see. Rather than forcing yourself through tough exercises, trick your body to move in a way that feels good. The goal is to find which movements warm up your body and your heart.
Set a timer for exercise breaks:
If you’re not focused on moving around more, you'll end up forgetting to do so when you’re absorbed in a task. Make it a point to stand up and move around every 20 minutes to 30 minutes. Set a timer on your phone, then pace around or stretch; a little motion won’t interrupt your workflow because you can still take calls or review printed files while standing up. Stretching regularly is a simple way to improve your flexibility; research even suggests it may be more effective than a brisk walk for individuals with stage 1 hypertension.
Certain mobility exercises can also keep your hands from cramping or tiring too often, especially if you type a lot for work. Performing a kneeling forearm stretch, under forearm stretch, or top of forearm stretch before you start typing can improve your joint strength — and they’re quick to do.
Written exclusively for Paragonbody.com by Ally Chadwick