If you regularly take 30-60 minutes each day for exercise, bravo for you! You’re doing much more to maintain your long-term health than someone who remains sedentary all day. But if you spend most of your other waking hours in front of your computer or TV, you’re probably not enjoying the fitness benefits you could be getting by taking short “activity breaks” throughout your day.
In response to warnings from fitness experts now suggesting that “sitting is the new smoking,” many people have begun taking measures to help stay active. For instance, some office workers have begun using adjustable desks that allow them to stand for at least part of their day. Others are taking strides—literally and figuratively—to follow a popular recommendation and attempt to take at least 250 steps during each hour of the work day.
While 250 is a nice, round figure, it isn’t some magic threshold you have to reach in order to stay fit. The idea is just to get up and move around for several minutes for every hour you spend seated at your desk or in front of your TV. Working in some extra activity could be as simple as going for a drink at the water cooler, walking up and down the stairs several times, or taking a walk around the building or parking lot. To help cue yourself, try setting a reminder on your phone, watch or computer. Some fitness tracking devices also include reminders that let their wearers know it’s time for another short burst of activity.
According to experts, taking these mini activity breaks can help relieve the fatigue of prolonged sitting, clear the mind to help you refocus, and even increase your productivity. However, it’s important to note that taking 250 steps per hour is no substitute for regular, sustained activity like a 30- or 60-minute jog.
For significant fitness results, strive to get 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each week, along with taking about 250 steps, or walking for 2-3 minutes, during most hours of your day.