Sit Less Every Day: Take Our 3-Week Challenge


Getty ImagesEven if you work out, heavy sitting may put you at greater risk of developing diabetes or dying of heart disease or cancer, per a new study in Annals of Internal Medicine. "We haven't cracked the formula for how much light activity versus more traditional exercise we should do," says study co-author David Alter, MD. "But taking the 'move more' mentality more seriously is a good place to start."

The action plan
Give yourself points every time you complete one of that week's tasks. Try to rack up at least 15 points a week.

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Week 1
Get on your feet: "Find out what your personal sitting traps or triggers are, and create reminders to stand or move around," suggests Nolan Peterson, a wellness exercise specialist at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program.

Count your steps: Keep your smartphone or tracker on you all day to get a rough idea of how many steps you take. Whatever your personal best is, aim to log 1,000 more steps daily. [1 Point]

Wear comfy shoes to work: "You're not going to stand or walk around more if you don't have the means to do so," says celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak. [1 Point]

Set a timer: "Your computer mesmerizes you and you lose track of time. You need something to remind you when it's a good idea to make a postural change," says Alan Hedge, PhD, an ergonomics professor at Cornell University. Program your phone to vibrate every hour as a cue to stand or do laps for 10 minutes. [2 Points]

Switch to a standing desk: "I've found I'm more likely to move naturally into different positions when I use mine," says Peterson. To DIY your own, check out these standing desk ideas. [3 Points]

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Week 2
Move it: Make some aspects of life less convenient, recommends Hedge.

Find excuses to move: Do away with the printer at your desk; at home, transfer your mugs to a cabinet away from the coffeemaker. [1 Point]

Pace during calls: Get in the habit of taking extra steps whenever you answer the phone. [1 Point]

Be a mom in motion: Stroll the sidelines instead of sitting on the bleachers at your kid's baseball game, or get out of the car and walk around at school pickup. [2 Points]

Keep the remote out of reach: During TV time, leave the clicker across the room. Hop up to hit mute during commercials. [2 Points]

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Week 3
Up the burn: It's crucial to pair small pockets of movement with real exercise, says Dr. Alter, who's a cardiologist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

Climb the stairs: "Going up uses three times the energy as going down," says Hedge. Walk up one to two flights whenever possible this week. [1 Point]

Work out at lunch: Bonus: Exercising during work hours for 2½ hours a week may maintain or boost productivity, per a 2011 study. [2 Points]

Sneak in some action: Schedule a walking, jogging, even SoulCycling meeting instead of settling into conference-room chairs. [3 Points]