I’m sure I’m not the only one who spends most of their day sitting. Whether driving to the grocery store, sitting through my two-hour English lecture, writing a 10-page essay, or scrolling through social media at the end of the day, I’m almost always sitting down. I’m sitting down to write this right now.
And I’m comfortable with that lifestyle (quite literally). But I don’t want to reflect on my couch potato days and regret my choices. But you may ask, how harmful can sitting be anyway? Well, research shows that people who sit for over eight hours per day and don’t engage in any form of exercise “have a risk of dying similar to that posed by obesity and smoking.” Studies also show that sitting for extended periods can cause obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar and cholesterol, and even an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
But with a full course load, a job on the side, and a slew of other responsibilities in life, exercising seems like the last priority for many — that’s how it is for me. But I’m here to tell you that staying active doesn’t have to be hard. Although nothing replaces actual exercising (like running or weight training), some movement is better than none. So, I’ve compiled a list of easy tips you can use to implement more activity into your busy routine.
- Use The Stairs
I know, this one sucks. Who wants to walk three flights of stairs to get to class when you can be carried there instead? But if dragging yourself up a flight of stairs is the only form of exercise you get daily, good. It’s something. And if taking the stairs is too hard, walk half the way up, then take the elevator the rest of the way. Trust me, after a few weeks of ditching the elevator, the stairs won’t be nearly as daunting.
- Ditch the Car
Do you know those parking spots at the back of the lot that you only use if everywhere else is full? Well, start using them on purpose. It’s a great way to get a few extra steps in. Either way, you’re walking from your car to your destination, so you might as well get more cardio in while doing it. If you take the bus, stop a few stops earlier to get the same effect.
(Bonus points if you use your bike instead of driving! You save gas money and the planet that way, too).
- Stand up while working
If you read textbooks or novels for your classes like I do, you might want to stand up and read. If you need to be on your computer, find the nearest countertop and work while standing. Your knees will thank you for it.
- Take frequent stretch breaks
Ultimately, as helpful as step three may be, it might not be practical to stand up for too long — you might get tired and will need to sit back down. In that case, I would advise standing up and taking frequent stretch breaks every 20-30 minutes. Taking a break from my screen to stretch or walk around helps sharpen my focus and keep my energy levels up. Jogging in place or walking around your room can also help keep you energized.
If you like listening to podcasts, take it outside as you walk around your neighborhood, or watch a YouTube video (or maybe that recorded lecture you missed) while walking on the treadmill. Lift some weights while watching TV. There are countless ways you can stay productive while also staying fit. Find a way you prefer.
(Bonus tip: Make walking fun by counting steps and setting daily step-count goals for yourself. A variety of apps help with this, including the “Health” app if you’re an Apple user).
So, there you have it! Now you have no excuses as to why you can’t stay active. Whether it’s taking a few extra minutes to use the stairs, riding a bike instead of driving, or taking breaks to stretch and stand, there are countless ways you can implement movement into your lifestyle without really noticing it.
Staff Writer (Volume 50) — Maryam is a third-year student completing a double major in English and Professional Writing & Communication. She started her journey with The Medium in 2022, where she’s written articles for News, Opinion, Features, and Sports. In her spare time, Maryam enjoys painting, cooking, and finding creative ways to educate people about world issues that matter to her.