Steps: what’s all the hype about? 5 reasons to get up and get moving
Did you know that most of us now spend more than half our waking hours sitting? We sit at the office, in the car, and on the couch, even though everybody knows that sitting for long periods of time makes you sick and is damaging to your health. Begging the question: why don’t we just stand up and move more?
The number of people who reported sitting for more than four and a half hours per day rose by 7.4 percent between 2002 and 2017, according to a study done by researchers at a Spanish university. Another study found that 57.2 percent of men and 50.2 percent of women sit for long periods of time each day.
Those are pretty horrifying numbers, especially once you consider that the human skeleton is actually designed to walk for 20-30km each day. But never fear, help is at hand! More and more people are discovering the joys of walking and running, a trend that has lots of us up out of our office chairs and on our feet.
In this article, we take a look at the obsession with getting your steps in, and examine what sitting for long periods of time does to the body. Plus, we have five great reasons for you to get up and go. Last but not least, we have some great tips for introducing more movement into your daily life. Ready?
Steps: are they really that important?
Not too long ago, everyone was counting calories, but these days more and more people have starting counting steps instead. The magic number seems to be 10,000 a day. Everyone is checking their smart phone or watch, looking to see if they have reached this lofty goal. And why not?
But it’s important to note than 10,000 steps is more like a guideline; it’s not a number set in stone.
In 2019, JAMA Internal Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal, published a study that compared a person’s daily number of steps with their mortality rate. The result confirmed that women who take at least 4,400 steps a day have a reduced mortality rate compared to women who only do 2,700 steps.
So the actual number is not as important as finding a goal that is achievable for you.
The World Health Organization recommends we get 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. And it’s nice to know that half the population does indeed do 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week – even though they might not realize it.
We spend so much time sitting down: facts & figures
It’s not just Germany – the European numbers don’t look much better.
Researchers analyzed the results of four European surveys with 96,000 participants from across the EU, and found that more and more people are spending long periods of time sitting down. 54.3 percent of participants indicated that they sit for longer than four hours a day.
The sports medicine specialist Klaus Völker told the German Press Agency “I find those figures very alarming.” In his opinion, people have “reached a sort of extreme form of physical inactivity, which is very worrying.”
And our lack of physical activity starts when we are quite young. According to up-to-date information from the WHO, 80 percent of children and adolescents do not do enough physical activity.
Even so, you might be surprised to learn that, according to the American College of Physicians, more people die each year from inactivity than they do from smoking.
The WHO is certain that we could avoid five million premature deaths if people would just move more.
What sitting for long periods of time does to the body
Lack of physical activity can cause a multitude of issues that make life more difficult:
- Important muscle groups break down
- Your risk of diabetes and cancer increases
- Sooner or later, you will experience back pain
- Headaches and neck pain may not be far behind
- You are more prone to cardiovascular disease
- You might be more susceptible to illness
- You are unable to deal well with stress because your nervous system can’t get a break
- Sitting for long periods slows your metabolism, making it easier to gain weight
Why you should move more
1. It helps clear your mind and fosters concentration
Not many people know that it is not just your body that benefits from regular activity; exercise is also good for your brain!
Movement makes specific demands on your brain, providing distraction and relaxation. There’s a reason we say we are going for a walk & ‘to clear our heads’.
2. Movement strengthens your immune system
When physical activity raises your pulse and you start to sweat, it activates your body’s defense system, allowing white blood cells to multiply faster and be more active. That strengthens your immune system, so you are less susceptible to illness.
3. It’s great for your mental health
Movement breaks down stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, allowing your autonomic nervous system to relax.
4. Movement strengthens your muscles and bones
Regular movement builds muscle mass, which helps to reduce muscle tension.
Because we sit all day, back pain, slipped discs, and neck tension have become widespread.
Movement can help prevent all three problems and boost bone metabolism, improving bone density and preventing osteoporosis (and other diseases).
5. Movement improves life expectancy
Plenty of studies have already proven that people who exercise regularly live longer.
Even just 15 minutes of movement a day reduces the risk of premature death by 14 percent, increasing life expectancy by up to three years, according to a study carried out by Taiwanese researchers.
Tips for adding more movement to your daily life
The good news is that there is no need to set unrealistic goals. You can add more movement into your daily life easily, without having to add ‘Sport’ to your to-do list.
Here’s some ideas:
- Walk or bike to work instead of taking the car, tram, or bus.
- Organize a walk with friends in a local park or your neighborhood.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.
- Leave the office at lunch time instead of eating at your desk.
- Turn on your favorite music while brushing your teeth, cooking, or cleaning the apartment, and dance, dance, dance. (What’s the worst that could happen?)
- Sneak in a few stretches while working at your desk
- Stand up more frequently to grab something to drink from the kitchen.
- Find a hobby you love that involves getting up and moving around – gardening, roller skating, dancing – the possibilities are endless!
Here at Humanoo, we want to help you get up and get moving.
Our next Step Challenge takes place from 25.10-8.11.2021. Why not joining in to clear your head and strengthen your body? You can register soon via our app and declare war on your inner couch potato. And you can win 15×100€ vouchers from Decathlon!
From couch potato to movement rock star: be kind to yourself
Just like any other recommendation, it’s important to remember that every single person is an individual, with individual needs when it comes to getting moving.
There will be days when you move around a lot, and days when you just don’t want to leave the house – and that’s totally normal. Please make sure you are taking your life and your needs into account as you get up and get moving.
We know that many of our followers are nurses, street cleaners, or grocery store workers. If that’s you, then you probably already move quite enough at work! It might be more important, when you get home, to relax and let your mind wander.
We hope that our suggestions will inspire you to seek out harmony between your body and mind, and we look forward to spending many more wonderful moments with you.
Your Humanoo team