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5 Ways to Sit Less to Save Your Brain

Heal
woman stretching at desk

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5 creative ways to move more.

You’ve heard that sitting is the new smoking: bad for our hearts, lungs, and a leading cause of obesity. A new study from UCLA suggests that too much sitting is also bad for our brains, and that sedentary behavior is linked to changes in parts of the brain that are critical for memory. Sorry, what was I saying? I work from a computer all day, and as much as I want to move more, it’s really challenging. But if sitting is going to literally thin my brain, I’m incentivized! For this week’s Healthy Habit, here are five ways to sit less, so you can think more.

  1. Commit, then get aggressive. Set a timer to move every 20 to 25 minutes—this is about your brain, people! —but make it an annoying, non-negotiable sound if you need to. I had to change my TomatoTimer from a pleasant “ding!” to an old-school doorbell tone. My poor husband always thinks we’re getting a package but the sound sends a firm message, “No, seriously, get up!”  
  2. Up your liquid game plan. One, choose a smaller cup/mug/water bottle so you have to get up more often for refills. Two, aim for a lot of hydration. (Your skin is going to look great!) All the inevitable trips to the loo are reason to move, but bonus points for choosing a bathroom as far away as possible. Another bonus: throw in five triceps dips before you sit back down.
  3. Stand and pace for phone calls. Whether you are on hold with the pharmacy or chit-chatting with your sister, make sure you are vertical and moving. Office workers: get a headset if you need to, and if you have a door, do lunges or use small hand weights if you’re stuck on an epic call.
  4. Seek out pleasurable destinations. Is there a nice dog park nearby where you’d enjoy taking your pet, instead of around the block? How about treating yourself to a stroll to a coffee shop in the afternoon? Is there a shady bench where you can enjoy your lunch? Not only will you move more, but you mind find your life becoming more pleasant, too.   
  5. Make your to-do list work for you. Every time you check a task off, let that be a reminder you need to make like James Brown and get on up. Do some squats or a victory lap around the office or your home. Onward to the next task! 

Kathryn Drury Wagner

Kathryn Drury Wagner is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. She is the author of Hawaii’s Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!, a science and natural history “gross out” for young readers.  


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