In 2011, researchers at the Mayo Clinic were baffled why, when fed the same diet, some people in a weight loss study gained pounds while others didn’t.
So they made their participants wear “magic underwear” that tracked every movement participants made, whether lying, walking, standing or sitting.
What they found was that participants who didn’t gain weight were “unconsciously moving around” more than their sitting counterparts. They were finding ways to exercise, simply by getting up and going to the bathroom, taking the stairs, gabbing on the phone while standing and walking in their lunch hour. According to the New York Times, on average, “the subjects who gained weight sat two hours more per day than those who hadn’t.”
A similar study reached an even more significant, and some might say frightening, conclusion: those who sit too much can shave years off their life. The journal Circulation found that sitting for hours and hours every day had more of an effect on mortality than “age, sex, education, smoking, hypertension, waist circumference, body-mass index, glucose tolerance status and leisure-time exercise.”
But the good news is that there are plenty of little ways to combat your sedentary lifestyle; one way is to integrate fitness into your Pomodoro breaks throughout the day.
In an article published in the Chronicle for Higher Education, Anastasia Salter explained how she used the Pomodoro Technique to stay active while grading papers.
In addition to having a “no-sitting” rule during short Pomodoro breaks, Anastasia exercised during longer breaks and dedicating at least one Pomodoro to active goals like “Laundry, cleaning [and] organizing materials for the new semester.”
If you do something physical during every Pomodoro break, you could significantly reduce the amount of time you spend every day idle and desk-bound.
Let’s say you spend about 9 Pomodoros a day at work. If, after every Pomodoro, you spend five minutes doing something physical — getting a cup of coffee, taking a short walk, doing some stretches, or walking up and down stairs — that’s 45 minutes you’ve saved yourself from sitting every day.
These light activities are known as NEAT or “non-exercise activity thermogensis,” and experts say you can burn up to 510 extra calories by doing them.
Add in two 20 minute Pomodoro breaks for every four Pomodoros and that’s an extra 85 minutes a day spent doing something physical.
Now that’s using the Pomodoro Technique to the max!