The importance of movement – some FAQs

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Building a foundation of movement is essential for our wellbeing.

For most of us, our lifestyles cause us to sit down much more than move around and our bodies are not built for such sedentary existence. If we think about how much we sit down, it is quite staggering - at work, in the car, on public transport, watching tv, computer games, social surfing, listening to music, eating and so on! 

Inactivity is described by the Department of Health and Social Care as a "silent killer". Evidence shows that sedentary behaviour, such as sitting or lying down for long periods, is bad for our health2.

The importance of movement

Research suggests that adults of working age in England average about 9.5 hours per day of sedentary time. The sedentary time for both men and women aged between 65 and 74 increases to 10 hours per day or more. By age 75+, people are sedentary for 11 hours per day1

Increasing movement with a brisk walk
  • What is sedentary behaviour?
     This is a term used for long periods of sitting, reclining or lying down whilst awake. Sedentary behaviour requires little energy! Sedentary behaviour is different from someone who is physically inactive. Being physically inactive means a person has not reached the physical activity recommendations for their age! You can be physically active and still sedentary... confusing yes we know, someone who exercises regularly can still live a sedentary life! For example, even if you're working out 30 minutes a day, it matters what you do for the other 23 hours of the day!
  • What is the difference between movement and exercise?
    Exercise is movement but not all movement is exercise! Exercise is a physical activity but is something that is planned, structured and usually repetitive and is carried out to maintain or improve our fitness levels. Movement is also a physical activity but is something we all do every day. Such as walking from a to b, cleaning, ironing, standing in queues, walking up and downstairs, making a hot drink, walking to the bathroom and so on! Movement is about not staying in the same position for too long and it is just as important as exercise.
  • What happens if I don't move much?
    If you regularly have a lack of movement, this will lower your immunity, cause lethargy, a lack of motivation and increase the risk of lifestyle diseases and premature mortality. Our bodies are designed to move so leading a sedentary lifestyle can have a significant impact on the functioning of our bodies. We burn fewer calories and our metabolism slows down, our heart becomes weaker (it is a muscle that needs to be exercised too), it affects our blood flow, nerve cells, joints, elasticity of our skin, our backbone and so the list goes on! It can also affect our mental health with a higher risk of depression and anxiety.

Whether you are seated or standing, our Mobility Routines poster demonstrates movement, stretches and gentle exercise.

Workplace Wellbeing

Narrow the search for your next wellbeing initiative and discover the Wellbeing People approach to workplace wellbeing.

How can i increase my movement?

We've put together 10 tips to help incorporate movement into your daily routine:

  1. 1
    Take regular movement breaks whilst watching TV or spending time at the computer or screen work. This could be as simple as getting up to make a drink, doing some stretches (these can be done seated too) and calf raises – always a quick win and can be done anywhere (just lift your heels off the ground for 3 sets of 15-20 reps).
  2. 2
    Stand up instead of sitting down whenever you can. i.e. whilst waiting for the train, or in a meeting – standing or walking meetings are quite popular! Try a standing desk.
  3. 3
    Take a phone call standing up or gently walking.
  4. 4
    Set a movement alarm for every 45 minutes - it works!
  5. 5
    Walk or cycle to meet a friend, go to work or to the shops! Try getting off at the earlier bus stop so you can walk further to work. 
  6. 6
    Take a brisk walk for 10 minutes outside. Being outside is also great for your mental health too!
  7. 7
    Take the stairs not the escalator or lift (within reason of course!)
  8. 8
    If you have a garden, you could do some sweeping, raking or weeding for 5 or 10 minutes here and there! Great for getting the chores done and for your health!
  9. 9
    Sit on a stability ball! Not only will this keep you moving, it will also improve balance, muscle tone and core strength
  10. 10
    Drink plenty of water – not only is this great for your overall health, but it will also increase your need for toilet breaks! Try walking to the furthest toilet away from you!

The body will become better at whatever you do, or don’t do. If you don’t move, your body will make you better at not moving. If you move, your body will allow more movement - Ido Portal

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