Six tips to build more movement into your day

The trick is to get started, not wait for a ‘good’ time to do it

a photo of a girl dancing happily

Put on your tunes and dance for a few minutes to break up a long period of sitting.

FatCamera/E+/Getty Images Plus

Moving your body regularly and often is a key to good health. But for people who don’t feel the urge to exercise, sitting can become a habit that hurts the body and the brain. Here are some easy tips that will invite more movement into your routines.

1. Budget in some mobile breaks

Make a conscious effort and set simple goals, says Tatiana Warren of Just TATI in Baltimore, Md. For example, for every hour that you’re sitting, you might set yourself a goal to get up for 10 minutes and move around. Schools and workplaces can be creative about building those breaks into the day, she says.

2. Give yourself prompts

Are you forgetting to get up? Set a timer if you have to. Let it remind you to “break up” an hour of sitting with a couple-minute breaks for walking or more, says Aaron Kandola at University College London.  

Or, if you’re watching TV, “just get up when there’s an ad break,” Hallgren says. For example, you might use the short break to do a quick chore (like empty the dishwasher or pick up the dog’s toys).

3. Work with what you have

“If it’s nice weather, you should definitely get out,” Warren says. Even a quick walk up and down the block can help. If the weather is bad, plan for other options.

Warren likes to jump rope in her high-ceiling apartment. But you could stand and stretch even in a small place. Dance around the room or jog in place a bit. Or, try short online exercise videos. For example, the Lake County YMCA in Ohio has free eight- to 12-minute kids’ yoga videos. Their themes include Star Wars, dinosaurs and the jungle.

4. Use the buddy system

Work with friends to remind each other to stand up and stretch. Or, remind each other to stand when you’re on the phone. Get your family involved, too. Warren says her cousins’ family likes to play board games. But they often stand to reach for something or even jump during the games. No one sits still for long, she says.

5. Stand or walk in place

If you’re watching something, such as a video or TikTok, consider standing while you do it. If you’re listening to music, try dancing to the beat at least once every 20 to 40 minutes. If you’re working on the computer, place it on a taller surface (a dresser or table top) so you can stand while you work. If you’re talking on the phone, walk around the room while you chat.

6. Push for better policies

School is a great place to start breaking up long periods of sitting, says Warren. And creative breaks can be fun. Tell your teacher, guidance counselor or principal what you’ve learned here. Suggest a trial school-wide policy to get everyone moving, or maybe even a competition. Everyone stands to benefit from moving more.

Kathiann Kowalski reports on all sorts of cutting-edge science. Previously, she practiced law with a large firm. Kathi enjoys hiking, sewing and reading. She also enjoys travel, especially family adventures and beach trips.

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