We all know we should exercise most days and we all know we should walk at least 10,000 steps each day.  But do we do it?  Not always, maybe, sometimes, never, everyday – everyone gives me a different answer.  But how much incidental activity do you get?

Inci-what?  Incidental activity is all the unstructured activity or movement you do during the day. It might include housework, standing while you’re cooking, walking to the bus or train, walking as you do the shopping, watering the garden, or getting in and weeding, or dancing round the living room with the kids.  Some of this might count towards achieving your steps each day, but some doesn’t.

It’s the exercise you get when you don’t think you’re exercising.

Do a quick audit of how much sitting you do each day

So, think about how much sitting you do.  Do you:

  • Sit on the bus or train or in the car on the way to and from work or study
  • Sit at work where you sit in meetings and at the computer
  • Sit while you watch tv or at the movies or while reading
  • Sit while you drive to the shops or for outings
  • Sit while you socialise with friends and family?

So how did you go?  It’s really easy in this modern life to sit for 10+ hours each day.  Does it make a difference to your weight or health?  Yes, it does.  The more you sit the higher your risk of increased weight and chronic conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Sometimes when you start something new – a new job, new study routine, new way of getting to work, or binge watching a new series – your weight starts to creep up the scale without you realising.

What can we do about it?

Try some of these ideas to reduce your sitting:

  • Get off the bus or train a stop early and walk.
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator – or take the lift for 2 floors and walk up 2 floors.
  • Schedule walking meetings instead of sitting meetings.  Stuck in a sitting meeting?  Then, engage your core and do pelvic floor lifts.
  • Walk around the block at lunch time; if you buy a coffee or lunch choose a café a little further away.
  • Stand up every 20 minutes if you can or at least every hour – set a timer to remind you to have a break and do a 2 minute lap around the office, get a glass of water, wash a cup, talk to a colleague instead of sending an email.
  • Ask your boss for a standing desk and stand for 10 minutes every hour.
  • Spend some time, even just 10 mins, in the garden everyday – water, weed, smell the flowers.
  • If you watch the kids or friends playing sport, walk along the sideline while you watch.
  • Walk the dog everyday!
  • When you go shopping, do a lap around the shopping centre before you settle on your task.  Yes, window shopping is ok!
  • Park far away from the door of the shopping centre.
  • Do something active while you watch tv – some use an exercise bike or treadmill but you could stand and do the ironing or fold the washing, prepare tomorrow’s lunch or dinner, or step or jog on the spot.
  • Put the radio or your favourite play list on and dance!
  • Take a picnic and go to your local park or the beach with friends instead of sitting in a café.  Take a ball and run around – have fun – or walk and talk!

So what do you need?

You’ll need to wear comfortable walking shoes.  And don’t forget to slip, slop, slap – wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen – when you’re outdoors.   And have a positive attitude – our body’s are made to move – move more.

Goodbye for this week, it’s time for me to get up and s-t-r-e-t-c-h…  Tomorrow I’m getting off the train a stop early…


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Post bydale cooke

I'm a nutritionist and dietitian with 26 years of experience helping people improve their health. Can I help you improve your health?