Sitting all day can have detrimental effects on our health over time, contributing to increased risks of high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, even increased risks of heart disease and cancer. To curb these problems, experts recommend taking breaks throughout the day to sneak in frequent movement.
Recent research shows that regular bouts of short, light activity may be more beneficial than, say, a long workout after a full day of sitting. A 2015 study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that by walking two minutes out of every hour of sitting, research participants lowered their risk of premature death by 33 percent.
And even if you aren’t sitting at a desk all day, taking regular breaks from what you are doing can be beneficial.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking five-minute breaks throughout the day to get a change of pace from what you normally do, no matter whether you’re sitting at a desk or not. Activities like getting up to stretch, walking to get a glass of water, or getting up to make calls are all ways to get a few minutes of movement.
For many of us, one of the challenges in moving every hour can be simply remembering to move every hour.
If you need help remembering to move, try one of these ideas below. Here are six ways to remind yourself to move every hour (or two hours, or whatever your work schedule permits):
1) Set a phone alarm. Even the most basic alarm clock on a phone will do the trick in letting you know when an hour is up. If your phone has the functionality to repeat, set an alarm to repeat every hour. If not, you can set a different alarm for every hour during the workday. Or even still, you can set just one alarm for the first hour of the day, then simply push that alarm one hour back every time it goes off.
2) Set a timer on your phone. Similar to a phone alarm, you can set timers on many smartphones, such as the iPhone. In the same settings as your alarm clock, you can set a timer to count down from one hour (or any other amount of time). When the timer goes off, simply start it again for your next hourly countdown.
3) Set an Outlook reminder. If you use Outlook, put it to work as your reminder to move. Create a “move” event every hour and mark out the time as busy for 5 minutes (say, 8:00 a.m.-8:05 a.m., for example), and set the event to recur daily for every weekday. Create an event for each hour throughout the day and save. It may seem meticulous, but it’ll get the job done! And if you take the time just once to create those events, they’ll be in your calendar forever, so as long as you’re active on the computer, you’ll get the reminders.
4) Get an app. There are countless apps that serve as reminders to move, ranging from bare-bones countdowns to more technical options with work-friendly exercises you can try out. Some are free and others have a small fee, and some are even available for computer use. This list from University of Missouri System is a great place to start.
5) Use a fitness tracker. Fitbit is one example of a fitness tracker with reminders to move built right into its functionality. Fitbit’s app reminds you to take at least 250 steps every hour, and it’s a wise way to incorporate regular movement with your overall steps goal for the day. Garmin and Apple Watch also have built-in features for reminders to move.
6) See — and pour — the glass as only half full. Fill your work glass only a fraction of the way, so that you run out of water quicker and need to refill your glass more frequently throughout the day. Bonus: Keep drinking water regularly, and any trips to the washroom will provide more opportunities to slip in some needed movement into the day.