It's an old saying that idle hands are the devil's tools. But idle bodies are even worse.
Sitting for long periods of time increases your risk of obesity, heart attack, diabetes,
depression or even death. And boy, is America a nation of sitters. On average, we spend 56
hours a week—35 of that watching TV—just sitting in one place, literally going
Statistics like these have given rise to a new field of study called sedentary
medicine. Many scientists are working hard to define the effects of sedentary living on our
bodies and set guidelines for how to limit the flatline effect of an 8-hour sitting-day.
One important way is an all-day activity called non-exercise thermogenesis, which just
means burning as many calories as you can while doing everyday activities. As a mother, doctor
and gatekeeper of mobility, I give my family and patients these five tips to become movers and
1. Walk it off! Build in more walking—to and from work, at lunch, around your home or
office. Stand up while you're on the phone or paying bills.
2. Waste your steps. Taking an indirect path can save your life! Make multiple trips to the
copier, the coffee machine, up and down the stairs at home, and run around after your kids.
Wear a pedometer, shoot for 10,000 steps every day, and see how quickly those steps can add
3. Do workplace workouts. Instead of sitting in a chair at your desk, sit on an exercise ball
30 minutes every hour to burn more calories and stabilize your core muscles. You'll find more
workout tips at my website, vondawright.com.
4. Widen your blood vessels. Try this: Twice an hour while sitting, take two really deep
breaths. Draw as much air into your lungs as you can, hold for 5 seconds and breath out. This
combats fatty sludge in your blood vessels by sending out nitric oxide scavengers to eat up
the harmful fat deposits.
5. Watch and move. Don't watch TV sitting down! Every time there's a commercial, get up, do something! Watch from a treadmill or the seat of an exercise bike. Stay upright. Keep moving.