We all know that we should get plenty of physical exercise to stay in peak physical and mental shape. However, regardless of this widespread knowledge, many of us still aren’t getting the recommended amount of activity on a daily or weekly basis. The next important biohack to add into your life is to add in more exercise every day. How can you achieve this when you’re on a tight schedule? Here, we look at some of the benefits of being more physical and some inventive ways to increase the amount of activity you can fit into your everyday life.
The Problems of a Sedentary Lifestyle
You’ll probably have heard in the media that too many of us are living a sedentary lifestyle but what does this mean?
Sedentary lifestyles are defined as a way of living where you don’t do enough physical activity regularly. The current recommendations by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) are
that we should all do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every day or, alternatively, 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. Walking around 10,000 steps every day is recommended as the optimal goal to improve your health and to reduce the possible health risks which occur as a result of inactivity.
The WHO (World Health Organization) says that up to 85 percent of the world’s population isn’t physically active enough and this makes the sedentary lifestyle the fourth top risk factor around the globe for mortality.
Traditionally, we are led to believe that eating healthily and taking some aerobic exercise can offset all the effects caused by spending excessive time sitting down. However, evidence now shows that if you exercise for half an hour a day, you still may be unable to mitigate the potential damage. The best solution appears to be to reduce the amount of time spent sitting down and increase the amount of time we spend moving every day.
The sedentary lifestyle results in numerous negative effects. Whether you’re working every day at a desk or driving a bus or taxi, you are putting yourself at the risk of the following problems:
A higher risk of developing certain cancers
A greater risk of developing depression and anxiety
A higher chance of suffering from certain cardiovascular problems
A greater chance of becoming obese or overweight
Reduced skeletal muscle mass
Higher blood pressure
Raised cholesterol levels
It has been estimated that, around the world, sedentary lifestyles cause 6 percent of all cases of coronary heart disease, 7 percent of all cases of type II diabetes, 10 percent of all cases of breast cancer and 10 percent of all cases of colon cancer. It has even been reported recently that inactive lifestyles cause more deaths every year than smoking.
We are more sedentary today than we ever have been in the past because technology has changed how we live our lives. 50 years ago, fewer people used cars and had desk jobs. They also had more physical hobbies and pastimes rather than watching TV and playing video games. The number of sedentary jobs has increased by over 80 percent since the 1950s, and when we add into that the fact that we now have longer average working weeks, that is a lot more time spent sitting on a chair.
It’s clear that finding ways to counteract the negative impact of the sedentary lifestyle is imperative, but luckily there are several biohacking changes you can implement to improve your health, fitness and wellness overall.
How Can I Get More Active?
We all know that preserving our physical health should be a top priority, but we’re also busier than ever before in our lives. With responsibilities such as caring for children or elderly parents, demanding jobs and a hectic social life, we’re all under pressure in a frantic pace of life. Of course, the most obvious way of getting more active is to go to a gym or to set aside an hour every morning or evening to work out at home. However, realistically, this just isn’t possible for some people.
Many people are intimidated by the idea of going to the gym, while finding the time to fit physical activity into a daily regime can be virtually impossible. Therefore, finding ways to become more active while going about our regular activities is the best solution.
Here are a few simple hacks to transform your daily routine into a healthier one.
Switch to a standing desk rather than a regular one. Office workers feel tied to their desks for much of the day, but if you make the simple change to standing rather than sitting, you’ll find that you’re less sluggish and stiff when your working day
comes to an end. Standing uses a lot more muscles when compared to sitting, and evidence has shown that standing up every 30 minutes and moving around can reduce your chances of dying early. Even better, it promotes better posture which in turn reduces tiredness and stress while encouraging better productivity and steadier breathing. If you’d like to take things a step further, why not switch to a treadmill desk instead. This will help you to stay a lot more active while you work, and you can walk or jog at the same time as you carry out your essential work activities.
Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Walking up an incline is better for you than walking on a flat surface, so choose the stairs for maximum benefit when getting active. Evidence shows that if you climb the stairs just three times weekly your cardiorespiratory fitness will improve. Your leg muscles will become stronger and you’ll also burn more calories for easier bodyweight maintenance.
Add simple exercises into your work routine. If you don’t have enough hours in the day to hit the gym, add some muscle workouts into your daily regime instead. Doing squats while at your disk or dips on your office chair won’t take much effort and it can help you to improve your overall fitness and wellness. You can even add in small changes such as balancing
on one leg while brushing your teeth or doing modified push-ups against your countertop while you’re microwaving food to improve your health.
Ditch the car. Instead of driving to work or the store, try biking or walking instead. You’ll find that it will bring you mental and physical benefits.
Use a resistance ball instead of a regular chair. Whether you’re at work or at home, switching your standing chair for a resistance ball will help to automatically straighten your spine, improve your posture and encourage you to stretch and move more often. You can even do some small exercises at the same time such as modified sit-ups to engage core muscle strength.
Take short walks during the day. During your lunch break, instead of vegetating at your desk, take a quick walk around the block instead. Just a ten-minute walk daily can give you positive mental and physical benefits. A workout doesn’t need to take an hour. Just 10 or 15 minutes of physical activity offers benefits too and will not only get your heart pumping but will also help you to improve your mental wellness.