Shut Up Fitbit! Why It’s Important to Move Every Hour
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on March 1, 2019 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in General Wellbeing
Fitbits and similar fitness trackers are all the rage today, and they’re helping people more closely monitor their health and fitness goals. One interesting feature found on most Fitbit devices is a “Reminder to Move,” which alerts users every hour if they haven’t walked at least 250 steps.
For some people, this hourly notification is annoying. However, the reminder is actually a great way to encourage people to get up and moving to improve their health. Taking 250 steps is equal to around 2 to 3 minutes of walking. While this may not seem like much, it might be enough to significantly reduce your risk for life-threatening diseases.
Here’s why you should refrain from silencing your Fitbit notifications and get moving every hour, instead.
The dangers of sitting
Sedentary lifestyles are known to increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even colon cancer. All of these health conditions can reduce both your quality of life and your lifespan. Studies show that people who sit for the majority of their day, as well as people who sit for long periods at any given time are both at a higher risk for premature death.
These risks are particularly high for people who work long hours at desk jobs, where they sit in front of a computer for eight or more hours a day. Follow that type of work with a few hours of watching TV on the couch, the majority of your day might be spent sitting down.
Exercise is important in reducing these risks and maintaining your health throughout your life. However, everyone knows that finding time for a workout isn’t always as easy as it seems. If you’re someone who struggles to fit in workout sessions, you may be able to capitalize on shorter movement periods to combat the effects of sedentary living.
A recent study suggests that taking as little as a 2-minute walk each hour can significantly reduce major health risks. Regular movement gets your blood pumping, even for just a few minutes, and can reduce the amount of time you stay sitting per day, as well as the duration of sedentary periods.
You should still work out a few hours each week for the benefits of rigorous exercise, but light, hourly movement is important even when you do find time to hit the gym. Regular movement provides benefits to the body that a single, hour-plus workout cannot.
It’s also important to note that standing more throughout the day (for example, using a standing desk) is not the same thing as having hourly movement. While standing can have numerous benefits for your bones and muscles, you need hourly movement to get your blood pumping.
Other benefits of hourly movement
Hourly movement periods aren’t only useful in reducing your risk for serious diseases. It can also make you a happier, more productive person and have other health benefits.
- Stress relief: Exercise is known as one of the best forms of natural stress relief. Moving helps your brain release “happy chemicals” called endorphins that can boost your mood and reduce stress.
- Improve focus: Moving helps improve blood flow, which delivers more nutrients and oxygen to your brain to help clear brain fog. If you’re having trouble focusing on your work, regular short walks can help you re-focus and stay productive all day.
- Combat sleepiness: Sitting all day can make you feel lethargic and tired, reducing your ability to focus and putting a damper on your mood. Studies show that routine periods of movement can help combat these tired feelings, so you continue to feel alert.
- Reduce muscle tension and back pain: Sitting hunched over a desk or computer can take a toll on your back, shoulders and neck. Tense muscles and spinal misalignments can cause serious back pain. Standing and moving more often gives your back a break and allows it to rest in an optimal position, relieving pain.
- Burn calories: Even the smallest bouts of exercise add up over the week, meaning you could burn additional calories and offset weight gain simply by walking a few short minutes each hour.
Simple ways to get up and moving
If you’re having trouble moving throughout your work day, try implementing these techniques each hour to ensure you’re meeting your hourly movement goals.
- Use a smaller water bottle so you’re forced to take more frequent walks throughout the day to fill it up again.
- Do 50 to 100 jumping jacks next to your desk every hour, on the hour.
- Take a short walk around the building.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator each time you need to change floors.
By making a point to move once an hour, you’ll develop a habit that can have a positive effect on your health for the rest of your life.
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan