In our monotonous work society, where over 80% of US jobs are predominantly sedentary and 9-5 desk jobs, it's no surprise that many people find it challenging to incorporate movement into their daily lives. The growth of remote positions during the pandemic has further compounded the issue. However, the importance of daily movement cannot be overstated. Finding joyful movement is something that can support your health in a variety of ways. From your physical, mental, emotional, and cardiovascular health just to name a few, by incorporating some sort of movement every day has long-lasting benefits.
The sedentary lifestyle that comes with desk jobs and remote work can have impactful effects on your health. Prolonged sitting can stiffen up your muscles, create poor posture, and impact your mobility in general. By incorporating for example, a standing desk, this can help keep your body moving, legs strong, and posture upright. This option might not be available for you, but even a quick walk on your lunch break can help keep your body moving.
Many studies have demonstrated that prolonged sedentary behavior increases health risks. For example, a systematic review associating sedentary behavior and health outcomes found that prolonged sedentary behavior in adults was associated with a 1.18-fold increased risk of cardiac death, 1.17-fold increased risk of cancer death, 1.91-fold increased risk of diabetes, and 1.24-fold increased risk of all-cause death .
However, these numbers can be minimized by getting up for just a few minutes throughout the day to move and reduce sedentary behavior.
Another big motivator for moving every day is that it can help with mental health, focus, and productivity. Engaging in regular physical activity releases endorphins, which are natural mood elevators. It helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, making it a powerful tool for maintaining mental well-being. It has been seen that physical activity is a protective factor for cognitive decline, especially among older adults, which further encourages the need for more movement throughout the day . Additionally, physical activity has been shown to determine positive physical and mental effects that influence the brain and cognitive functioning and promote a condition of well-being.
Another reason to include movement in your daily life is the ability for movement to reduce stress. Stress is a common companion in the corporate world, especially in high-pressure jobs. As I said before, exercise releases those "feel good" hormones called endorphins, which can boost mood and help manage stress. Exercise can also provide stress relief for your body while imitating the effects of stress, such as the flight or fight response, and helping your body work in harmony with its systems to work through different stressors. This can also have positive effects on your body — including your cardiovascular, digestive, and immune systems — by helping protect your body from the harmful effects of stress.
One last reason to include movement in your daily routine is that it helps with work-life balance. Integrating physical activity into your daily routine can lead to a healthier work-life balance. It provides an opportunity to step away from work-related stressors and focus on your well-being. In a world where work often infiltrates personal time, taking time for physical activity reinforces the idea that personal well-being is as important as professional success. It helps you establish and maintain a clear distinction between work hours and personal time, ultimately contributing to a healthier work-life balance. By taking a break, for example during lunch time, to go for a walk can refresh your mind and allow you to get back to work with more energy and focus than before.
Integrating movement into your daily routine goes beyond the immediate physical benefits; it plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy body from the inside out, helping with stress management, supporting productivity and mental clarity, as well as a healthier work-life balance. By making daily movement a priority, you not only enhance your well-being but also create a more fulfilling and balanced life both inside and outside the workplace. What movement are you going to include in your day? Get moving Snowbeasts!
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John D. Omura, David R. Brown, Lisa C. McGuire, Christopher A. Taylor, Janet E. Fulton, Susan A. Carlson, Cross-sectional association between physical activity level and subjective cognitive decline among US adults aged ≥45 years, 2015, Preventive Medicine, Volume 141, 2020,106279, ISSN 0091-7435,