How to Change a Sedentary Lifestyle to an Active Lifestyle

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

Sedentary Lifestyle to an Active LifestyleChanging a sedentary lifestyle to an active lifestyle involves much more than vigorous exercise.

“I take enough steps in one day,” you may say. “I wear an activity tracker.”

If you’ve been wearing an activity tracker such as a Fitbit to help you stay motivated and improve your health, I’ve got a bit of news for you. And unfortunately, you might not like it.

Now it’s true that activity trackers help people increase their activity and spend more time on their feet every day. It might even be helping you lose a few pounds and inches around your waist, too. And though most of them encourage you to take at least 5,000 to 10,000 steps per day, there’s far more to the story when trying to change a sedentary lifestyle to an active one.

Preventing a Sedentary Lifestyle

Five thousand steps per day—even 20,000—does not make the difference between a sedentary or an active lifestyle. Even people who exercise vigorously for two hours per day do not necessarily live an active lifestyle. In order to live an active lifestyle and maximize the benefits from it, you have to look at the total amount of time you’re sitting—that is, being sedentary—to the time you’re being active.

The time you spend moving or engaging your muscles, whether it’s from walking (at any pace), standing, or vigorously exercising, is activity. Conversely, the time you spend sitting on the sofa, behind a desk, at a table, or behind the wheel of a car, is sedentary. And research shows that when you’re sedentary for an extended period of time without any activity, you’re at an increased risk of weight gain, diabetes, high cholesterol, and premature death. This is true even if you exercise daily.

The timing of activity, therefore, is essential to health. Fitness trackers encourage you to take more steps, but if you’re taking them all in a single hour of the day and then sitting the rest of the day, they won’t necessarily provide you with the health benefits you’re hoping for.
Get Up and Get Moving!

The easy fix is to simply get more movement in your life. By no means am I suggesting that you stop tracking your steps, going to the gym, or engaging in bouts of exercise. What I’m saying is that limiting the amount of time you spend sedentary is essential to your health. Simply making an effort to stand up once an hour for about five minutes can reduce the health impacts of extended periods of sitting.

Two easy ways to boost activity levels are:

  • Standing at work: If you have a desk job, raise your workstation by stacking books or asking your employer for a riser to place your computer/work materials on.
  • Set a timer to get up every hour or so: If you’re at work, use the time to put fresh water in your water bottle, take a walk around the office or go to the bathroom. If you’re at home watching television, stand up for five minutes.

These things may seem too small to be effective and might not feel like activity, but they can make a huge difference in your overall health and how you age.

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Sources for Today’s Article:
Neighmond, P., “Walking 2 Minutes An Hour Boosts Health, But It’s No Panacea,” NPR web site, May 1, 2015;, last accessed April 8, 2016.
Beddhu, S., et al., “Light-Intensity Physical Activities and Mortality in the United States General Population and CKD Subpopulation,” CJASN, published online before print April 2015; doi: 10.2215/ CJN.08410814; CJN.08410814.
Reynolds, G., “Does taking fewer than 5,000 steps a day make you sedentary?” The New York Times News Service via The Globe and Mail web site, last updated April 6, 2016;, last accessed April 8, 2016.