Are You An Active Couch Potato?

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According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity per week. For some of us, that means hitting the gym for 30 minutes a day to “knock it out” before work or maybe going on a moderate-intensity walk. Although doing this might check the box of hitting your weekly physical activity goal, a new study has shown that it is also important to move throughout the day. Many of us, after that morning walk or gym session, go to work and sit for 8-10 hours just to come home and sit some more.

A study was published last year by the American College of Sports Medicine that showed it is important to our cardiometabolic health to move throughout the day. Cardiometabolic health describes a combination of multiple risk factors that include blood sugar, BMI (Body Mass Index), cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

Study Highlights

The study tracked participants during their regular week. At the conclusion of the study, participants were classified into four groups: active couch potatoes, sedentary light movers, sedentary exercisers, and movers. All participants achieved their 150 minutes of physical activity per week goal. People in the active couch potato group, although sufficiently active, were still sedentary for over 10 hours per day. This group had the highest sedentary time and the lowest amount of cumulative activity time. At the other extreme, movers had less sedentary time and accomplished more movement throughout the day. The study found that this increase in movement throughout the day and decrease in sedentary time greatly improved participants’ cardiometabolic markers.

What does that mean for us? Keep up those daily walks, but remember to keep moving all day long. It is essential to take breaks from our sedentary actions to move our bodies.

Easy ways to incorporate movement into your day to decrease your sedentary time:

  • Take a 10-minute movement breaks every hour.
  • Take short walks throughout the day. Even around the office or in the parking lot.
  • Get a workout buddy for accountability and fun! It will be easier to take breaks if you have someone helping you remember to move.
  • Take time to stretch! Even at your desk, here are some easy stretches to do, or maybe take time for chair yoga.
  • Choose some bodyweight exercises to increase your resistance training throughout the week. If you do a couple of exercises per hour, it really adds up!

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3 thoughts on “Are You An Active Couch Potato?

  1. Great motivating article! I used to be an extreme athlete but gained a ton of weight through comfort eating in an attempt to pacify my loneliness with the passing of my parents and husband, and kids leaving the nest. I’m trying to get more active, bought an exercise bike and started riding it 20 mins/3x’s a day. But my dr just told me I need to ride it 30 mins/FIVE day/wk! I know it’s not insurmountable because I used to run 20 miles a day before I gained all the weight, but right now at 5 ft 3 and 245 lb, it seems so far away! Now, I try to jump up and do things throughout the day, but I also do a lot of sitting throughout the day too, so I’m trying to get more active, cut the sugar addiction, and the simple carbs, but I still comfort eat in the evenings when I KNOW I shouldn’t be. I know HOW to do it, but DOING it is another story when you’re not working (on disability for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and a plethera of other health issues) and alone all the time. I’ve tried finding friends- groups/others- but where I live it’s to spread out- too much driving- too far to go try to find people with the same goals make friends. I tried going to the gym (did swimming & chair yoga for a YEAR) but everybody is on their own schedule and the atmosphere was so cold I didn’t make any friends and just couldn’t do the drive everyday anymore. I had to even stopped going to my church because of the drive and my exhaustion. I do Church online now…and I love my church, my Pastor is AMAZING, but I don’t get the fellowshipping I need. So now I’m back to trying to lose weight and get in shape alone at home.

    Can you please explain exactly what the four groups (active couch potatoes, sedentary light movers, sedentary exercisers, and movers) are? Can you please Go into more detail so that I can see which group I’m in? Thank you.

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