A cheat’s guide to staying active – BBC News

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You might need to take a seat for this… or maybe you already have.

Scientists are again warning of the many dangers of a sedentary working lifestyle sitting at a desk all day – but they do offer the ray of hope that if you can squeeze in just one hour of being active, all is not lost. So, with this in mind, here are five ways to be more active without too much effort – or going anywhere near a gym:

Take a break… and move

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It’s not just sitting down; staying in any position for too long can be bad for your health, researchers at Cambridge University say.

Dr Mike Loosemore, from the English Institute of Sport, says taking regular mini-breaks is the simplest way of getting on your feet and moving about.

Walk to the loo in the furthest corner of the building, grab a drink at the water cooler, be the helpful colleague who does the tea run. Try and do something along these lines at least once an hour, he advises.


Other ideas that could work in an office environment include forming a walking lunch group or even simply standing up when you take a phone call.

The Institute of Occupational Safety and Health also recommends taking the stairs rather than lifts or escalators, and having meetings without tables or chairs.

Other tips, according to NHS Choices, include parking the car slightly further away than you usually would from the supermarket or workplace.

Walk a dog… any dog

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Dog owners already know that having a canine pal ensures you have to get out and about but even if you don’t have a suitable pet, there are many opportunities to walk a temporarily faithful friend that you won’t have to take home afterwards.

A quick Google search throws up a host of job adverts in most cities across the UK. If there is one near your workplace, you can get a bit of exercise, a spot of canine bonding… and you may even earn some handy cash into the bargain.

Last year the Daily Telegraph reported that dog walkers can charge an average of 11.50 an hour.

Remember, the average person burns about 140 calories in a brisk walk so it’s not only Fido who will benefit.

Go, go with Pokemon Go

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The rapid rise of the augmented reality game – Pokemon Go – is arguably the latest craze to encourage people to walk, while distracting them from the exercise.

The game has been downloaded by millions of players, who are encouraged to venture into real-life places to hunt down virtual monsters.

Catching pokemon means burning calories, with users – known in the game as trainers – walking anywhere between one and six miles in order to hatch one poke-egg.

Such is the popularity of the game that animal shelters in America are even encouraging users to walk a dog while they play.

The Muncie Animal Shelter in Indiana put a shout-out on its social media sites looking for Pokemon Go players to volunteer to walk some of the shelter’s dogs.

Matt Hoffman – a professor at A&M College of Nursing in Texas – has spoken of the health benefits of the game. “There’s no doubt about it, I am exercising more as a result of playing the game, and I am enjoying it,” he told .

Pound the pavement with an urban walk

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Urban walking – enjoying the many varied sights of our towns and cities – is now a well-documented pastime, and one which has often been lauded for its ability to boost inspiration.

And you can take some literary influence from two female writers born a century apart.

Lauren Elkin tackles the subject of “wandering women” in her book Flaneuse, arguing that the time is right for a female equivalent of the “flaneur” – a Parisian-derived term for a man who walks and observes.

Her book points out that Kensington’s own Virginia Woolf was doing all that back in her heyday 100 years ago.

Woolf wrote in her essay Street Haunting: “When the desire comes upon us to go street rambling… getting up we say: ‘really I must buy a pencil’, as if under cover of this excuse we could indulge safely in the greatest pleasure of town life in winter – rambling the streets of London.”

In fact she is one of many writers who have advocated the aimless walk for inspiration, who also include William Wordsworth and Charles Dickens.

So your first great novel may be just a ramble away from being dreamed up.

Or just stretch!

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If you really can’t do any of the above, then at the very least having a stretch while sitting at your desk is better than nothing.

A few deep breaths and stretches will boost your circulation and help to wake you up, NHS Choices advises.

Stretching your legs, neck and arms will also help, but it’s also important to make sure you are sitting correctly at your desk, and not as pictured above.

A correctly adjusted chair will relieve the strain on your lower back, and your screen should be at eye level.

Media captionPersonal trainer Tom Melody gives five tips on how to stay fit and healthy when sitting for long periods

Here is more NHS advice for desk workers.

For more on staying active

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Do you really need to take 10,000 steps a day to keep fit?

Calorie burner: How much better is standing up than sitting?

What should we be eating?

Do you exercise at your desk or in your workplace? Have you ideas about being active you’d like to tell others about? You can share your experiences by emailing [email protected].

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