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Can You Incidentally Improve Your Fitness?

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The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. Unfortunately, many people aren't meeting this minimum. But what if it were easier to improve your fitness? That’s what researchers from Queen’s University set out to find out in a new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

The researchers had two groups of people—sedentary yet healthy and overweight—wear accelerometers to see how much and how fast they were moving throughout the day.

They found that the people who moved the most, even if it was incidental activity like walking to the bathroom more often, picking up copies from the printer, or tapping their feet, had higher cardiovascular fitness than those who didn't fidget as much.

"While there is definitely value in small incidental movements, it needs to be on a larger scale in your daily life," says Craig Friedman, vice president of the performance innovation team at Athletes' Performance. Keep in mind that this doesn't replace the need to stay as active as possible with activities like biking, running, walking, or going to the gym, said Friedman.

Here are seven simple ways to consciously add incidental movement into your day: 

  1. Use a bathroom on a different floor at your office.
  2. Get off the subway or bus a stop early and walk home.
  3. Walk up or down the escalator, don't stand still.
  4. Take the stairs two at a time.
  5. Stand while having conversations.
  6. Pace across your office when on long phone calls.
  7. Park your car in the farthest spot from your office building.

Check out “Small Steps to Big Change” for more ideas to move more every day, and share your own incidental movement tips in the comments below.

Tags: Health, Walking, Work