Bone & joint health Featured Fitness Wellness

Do you move enough?

family on a walk

September. It’s back to school. Back to work. Back to long commutes in the car and to fighting for a seat on the bus. And for many of us, back to sitting still most of the day.

According to Statistics Canada, Canadians spend about 10 hours of each day being sedentary. That is, not moving. That doesn’t even include the hours when we are sleeping. A recent study by researchers at the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Studies found that standing still too much isn’t good either. In short, whether sitting or standing, we don’t move very much.

And that’s a problem, says Joanne Dorion, a physiotherapist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

“The body wants to move. It was made to move,” she says. Daily activity can help reduce the risk of illness, help us maintain a healthy body weight, and improve our overall mood. Physical activity is also very important for bone and joint health.

In the summer, we are all typically a bit more active, Joanne says. But as summer turns to fall, and a hot afternoon swimming at the cottage becomes a cool evening bingeing on Netflix, it’s time to really think about how much time you spend sitting, laying, or standing still.

“We sit at our desks, or in the car on the way to and from work, or on the couch when we get home,” she says. “A good first step is to become aware of just how much time you spend not moving.”

Next step is becoming aware of how you sit.

“Most often, we aren’t sitting well, in terms of our posture,” Joanne says. “We all spend a lot of time hunched over our laptop or our phone or a book.”

At work, choose an office chair that you can raise or lower the height and has good lumbar support. Be sure to take it for a “test drive” before you buy it. (Here’s more tips for setting up your desk)

If you do sit for your job or are in still in school, be sure to switch your sitting position throughout the day. Stand up and stretch when you can. Stretch your neck by bringing your ear to your shoulder (left and right). Roll your shoulders forwards and backwards. Reach your arms out with your elbows straight, palm down. Bend your wrist down. Repeat with your palm up.

“Set a reminder in your phone or on your computer to get up and move every 30 minutes,” Joanne suggests.

There are a few other small things your family could do to be a little less sedentary, Joanne says.

“Get off the bus one stop early. Don’t go for the closest parking spot to the door. Park a little farther and walk,” she says.

For parents driving their little ones to school, park a block away and walk over to the school together.

At work, make a point of going to the farther washroom or the cafeteria that’s on the next block instead of in the building.

“Sometimes when we get home from work, we are just tired and want to sit down,” Joanne says. “Try a walk in the neighbourhood or a short bike ride before or after dinner. Even though you feel tired, doing something active will actually energize you.”

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Do you move enough?

Here are some simple ways to add a little movement into your day.

Park farther away.

Stretch at your desk.

Walk and talk after dinner.

About the author

Alexis Dobranowski

Alexis Dobranowski is a Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.

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