One-minute Recess—good for body and soul

Photo credits:

Photo credits:


Is sitting the new smoking? Sure seems like it. With such dire consequences as those included on this WashPo printable poster and recent articles that say things like extended sitting results in metabolic alterations that an isolated exercise session cannot compensate for,* it does appear as if sitting too long could kill ya! (Indeed, another article shows a connection in older women between sitting more and early death**–yikes!)


So, what’s a desk jockey to do? As a client told me, “If I’m up walking around the building every hour, people will assume I’m not doing my job!”

But what if you’re more intentional about it? You could even call it something like “1-minute recess.” Then everyone would want to play, because they’ve all heard about the evils of sitting. And since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of health insurance costs, your employers will surely want to reward your innovative idea!

I recommend leg swings to start. They are a great way loosen up your hips and prevent lower back pain and sciatica. I demo three types of leg swings in the short video below. Do all three on one leg first, 15 reps of each, then switch to the other leg. 


You could also try a few squats, wall pushups, burpees, high-steppin’, lunges, mountain climbers, boxing, kicking, kick-boxing, frog jumps, jumping jacks, anything that gets you moving. You could just dance to that music in your head. I’ve currently got Happy in mine. Just try not to move to that one.

“One-minute recess” is actually a term I picked up earlier this month at the annual health and fitness summit sponsored by the American College of Sports Medicine.The idea of doing some kind of movement on the hour so permeated discussions there that all speakers were urged to include a 1-minute recess in their talks. And they did—when you were least expecting it. One minute I’d be taking meticulous notes on how to design the perfect at-home circuit workout and the next doing jumping jacks, chair squats, the Cupid Shuffle, whatever—the point was we were up and moving, usually about 200 of us. Just 1 minute got my heart pumping and my mind more alert, like splashing cool water on your face.


So, instead of sitting uninterrupted for hours on end at your desk, being a busy bee or just looking that way, get yourself up—at least once an hour. Set your watch if you have to. Sit on a Swiss ball; even if they don’t help your back, they eventually become  uncomfortable enough to make you stand up! Sip water throughout the day so you HAVE to get up; then take the long way back from the restroom. 🙂 

*Katzmarzyk et al. Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 41, May 2009.

**Sequin et al. Sedentary behavior and mortality in older women: the women’s health initiative. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 46(2), Feb 2014.

Here are a couple of interesting brief articles on the subject:

Too Much Sitting is Hazardous to Your Health?
Len Kravitz, Ph.D.

Too Much Sitting May Be Harmful for Older Women: 12-year study of 93,000 women found higher risk of early death for least active. Robert Preidt Friday, January 17, 2014

Keep moving — Jen Katt

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