Today as a society we sit. At work on a computer, at home watching TV, at school in class. But our bodies were not meant for a sedentary lifestyle, and diseases like diabetes and cancer and a host of musculoskeletal problems are tied to sitting. Kathleen Hale co-founder of the Rebel Desk and leader of Chair Free Project, a health movement to educate people about the dangers of sitting and to promote standing, walking and moving during the day, offers these tips for people to stay active during their activities of daily life.
Make Your House a Healthy Haven
Stand up for cooking. The kitchen often is the center of the house. Whether preparing meals or chatting before dinner, make your kitchen a comfortable place to stand. Add a mat at your sink or stove. These mats provide comfortable cushioning and promote healthy circulation.
Pillow plan. When you come from work, you might be tempted to plop down on the couch and sit for a few hours, even if you were sitting all day. Avoid this temptation by placing throw pillows on the couch before you leave in the morning. The pillows serve as a reminder to spend less time on the couch. Instead stand up, or sit on a pillow on the floor for 15 or 20 minutes.
Remotes away. The rise of automation is a major reason for the drop in activity in our lives. We don’t need to leave our seats to communicate with people around the world, print documents or change channels. Put your remote controls away for two days a week. See how getting up to change the channel impacts your sedentary habits for the better.
Eat at the kitchen counter. Try standing at a kitchen counter to eat for one meal a day. Breakfast often is the easiest one. Simply avoiding 15 to 20 minutes of sitting can make a big difference when done everyday.
Plant a garden. Give yourself a reason to engage in light activity at home by planting a simple garden. Gardening encourages standing to water or kneeling to weed. Moving between these positions and engaging your muscles is the type of simple activity missing from modern lives.
Comfy floor. Make your floor an inviting place to sit. Having to get up and down off the floor is a great way to improve your flexibility and keep your muscles loose. Sitting on the floor lets your body rest without the negative effects of chair sitting. This is also a great way to engage kids at their physical level. Invest in a comfortable rug or large pillows that make the floor inviting for sitting.
Stairs as an exercise machine. Your stairs are one of the best ways to stay active at home. Instead of complaining about a trip up the stairs, consider it a great opportunity to get active. Stairs also are the perfect place to do easy strength training, such as calf raises or tricep dips. Sneak in these exercises while the kids are playing or while listening to a favorite podcast.
Space out your cleaning. Rather than spending an entire day doing major home cleaning, clean a little each day. Vacuum the house one day. Dust on another. Spruce up the kitchen on another. Fifteen or 5 or 20 minutes of cleaning each day a great, simple way to engage the body and keep moving.
Light it up. Allow as much natural light into your home as possible. Open the shades, pull up the blinds, or invest in a natural glow lamp if needed. Having light fill your space has been shown to be invigorating and energy boosting. You will be more likely to want to move around, take a walk, or get chores done around the house when light fills your home. Even in the evenings, just being able to see the natural world outside as opposed to a closed window shade can be energizing.
Work on your feet. Most of us spend hours on our computers at home, in addition to computer time at work. Instead of spending hours on the couch or at the kitchen table on your computer, place your computer where you can stand up and work, such as at a kitchen counter. Use a large box or crate to raise up your laptop on a desk. Not only will you avoid the draining effects of sitting, you might be less likely to spend lots of time working at home.