All answers must be in minutes and should relate to an average day (not that one time you had the day off and took a long walk and forgot to check your email 17 times.)

Commute time to and from work: _______

Commute time for kids to after school activities: _______

Sitting a day at work: _______

Sitting eating breakfast, lunch and dinner: _______

Watching TV/movies (30-60 minutes per show):_______

Using the Internet or computer (not at work): _______

Other sitting time (reading, sewing, knitting, toilet*, building models, etc.): _______

Total minutes (add all numbers above): ________

Looks pretty good so far, right?

Now add 420 minutes (7 hours worth) as the average amount of time you spend in bed. Adjust this number up or down depending.

(Number from above) + (420 +/- any adjustments) = ________

Subtract the above number from 1440 (the total amount amount of minutes per day): 1440 – _______ = ______

This last number is the amount of minutes your body is active per day, or said a different way, how many minutes per day that you spend not sitting or lying around.

I am mobile  _________ minutes on an average day.

Divide this number by 1440, and multiply by 100 and you’ll find the percentage of movement you’re getting compared to what is possible in a 24-hour period.

I am mobile ____ % of the day.

We have, in our culture, the belief that exercising 30-minutes or an hour is enough to make up for hours of sloth. It’s not. In fact, regular exercisers do not experience a reduced risk of dying from the same things that non-exercisers die of. The risk of death from things like CV disease is not actually associated with how much you move, but by how much you don’t move. This test is not biased to those who exercise and those who don’t.  It quantifies only what it states.  How much you sit.

To reduce your risk of CV disease, you do not have to exercise more (read: sweaty, scheduled, and requiring a new outfit), you simply have to stop sitting for such a high percentage of the day. Or, said a different way, we have to stop trying to *fix* our health, without changing the damaging habits. You can’t keep eating crap all day long and “running it off” so to speak. Biology doesn’t work that way. It’s the crappy, all-day habits your body is adjusting too, not the one hour you’re making good choices. Gotta make good choices the bulk, with the crap sprinkled here an there, like on a donut.

Poetry, right?

Some suggestions:

1. Standing work station.

2. Walk to errands and appointments.

3. How about a strolling lunch or eating a breakfast sandwich while walking your kid to school (or yourself to work?)

4. Get rid of the TV. Or, at least the cable. It’s like candy on the teeth — it really is rotting your health. Is anything on TV that good? Besides Top Chef, I mean.

5. Walking dates as social activity with friends, partner, kids.

6. Walking book groups and books on tape.

7. Stand at seminars, meetings, events. It helps to get a clipboard. And, P.S. If someone asks you why your standing, say “too much research on sitting as a risk for CV disease and certain cancers. I’m minimizing my time as much as possible. Want to borrow my other clipboard?”)

8. Need to catch up on personal calls? Do it walking or gardening, etc.

9. Can’t take a long break? Use time in between clients to do a quick stretch of the calves and hamstrings (check out this hybrid stretch):

stretch your chest and shoulders on your office chair, massage table, or wall:

and take two to five minutes to take a quick lap around your desk, office, or office building. Stairs in your building? Go up and down a flight (you don’t need to run them, and do pay attention to your whole-body positioning) two or three times.

If you do this seven or eight times a day, you will have added an hour of movement to your day, easy. What are you waiting for?

If you have a great idea about ways to reduce sitting time here and there, please share your comments with your community excited about whole-body wellness!

If you feel like you need to post the reason(s) why you are unable to increase your daily movement, even by one percent, go ahead and post that. I will respond with, “Is that so?” and nothing else 🙂

* I put this in because my husband disappears into the bathroom twice a day, for 37 minutes a visit. It’s his way of vacationing from the baby. “Not just the baby,” he just said.


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53 thoughts on “The “HOW MUCH DO I SIT” Quiz

  1. Right, following the above calculation (and I am doing this really important calculation to have a break from my kiddies as it’s time to get ready to bed – hubby is pretty good at them now) I am 66.6 % active. It must be the devil in me. This is what I am estimating. I shall keep a tap on the sitting time tomorrow and see how close I am. I suppose I am lucky that everything is within walking distance or 5 – 10 min drive and I don’t have an office job. Now I just need to convert some of my high percentage of standing time into walking time. (posted standing)

  2. NEATO! I came up with 7.6 hours of active time per day…doing pretty good I think. This amount adjusts upward or downward depending on how I feel on any given day which directly translates in to more or less sitting time at work. Also, do we get “active” points for sitting on the floor to eat or view Top Chef?

  3. Ahhhh that’s frightening. apparently, I am active less than .5% of an average day. I need to work on that. And seriously make a standing desk, because I spend about 85% of my waking day sitting (between classes and the constant homework.) Still haven’t come up with a reasonable way to stand and take notes in class.

    1. Consider sitting on the floor. Would be better perhaps than sitting in the chair, but easier to take notes.

    2. Make the desk. Even if it’s a flipped over box on a desk for now. Really, your body will thank you…

    3. can also try tape recording classes so you can stand on occasion and listen, and then transcribe later. I did this in grad school sometimes and found it helped me with retaining new info. Just a thought. Bathroom breaks/stretch breaks also really useful.

  4. I am VERY inactive–full time desk job and full time student–so I bought a sit-stand desk (it has a motor). I find that I actually get faint when I stand, so I can’t do it for long. I feel like I’m not getting enough oxygen or something. So I can’t sustain standing for long. I know this indicates I’m terribly out of shape and need to stand more… but could there be anything going on with my alignment causing this?

    1. Are the kneecaps relaxed? That’s be the first place I’d check. The second idea being, standing requires more work for your body to return blood — if your lateral hips, hams, calves are really not use to working, it’s work for your heart. I know you’re busy in school, but maybe creating a 15 minute lower body strengthening (think a lot of standing work) to do once a day might go far for you!

      1. Thanks! They are definitely mostly locked! I have to pull my pants up and look in order to relax them; it’s like I don’t know how to otherwise :-0 I notice that my kneecaps are sometimes relaxed when I stand on both feet, but I mostly tend to stand with all my weight on one foot with the other doing something weird (like turning out), and I definitely lock my weighted leg kneepcap then. Very interesting! I also have an awful habit of sticking my pelvis forwards so I can rest my belly on the edge of the desk, meaning my upper half is leaning backwards to balance. That can’t be good.

        I will work on a lower body workout. I do squats and lunges already maybe 3x a week, though I know my alignment isn’t that great. Any other suggestions?

        1. Back those hips off and keep your pelvis from the table!! That way, you’re using your glutes and hamstrings while standing — not your psoas and quads (and cutting off your circulation in the process!)

  5. I love this post! Another tip I always suggest to my students is, if you have to drive somewhere – park in the furthest spot away. Good for reducing door dings and increasing your mobility percentage!

    1. I gotta chime in on that one, just because I it’s one I’ve heard a lot – not trying to pick on you, Jennifer! For those parking lot walks to add up to some phat movement percentage points, I’d have to park in 6 or 7 parking lots during the day. In which case I’d have to0 say, I seem to be driving too much.

      We can do better at doing better! We gotta do this movement thing for reals!

      1. I agree. It can’t be the only thing! Some of my students have to drive to desk jobs. I only suggest it in a long list (many of the things Katy mentions above included) of other things. I wouldn’t suggest it exclusively. When I worked a desk job I parked in the highest level of the garage, in the furthest space. I walked down the 5 flights of garage stairs to the building, up the six flights of stairs to my office and back at the end of the day. It was just one thing among many, but it did help and certainly was better than parking in the closest space on level 1 and taking the elevator. It’s about shifting one’s mindset about the real price of convenience and ease. And, I personally believe its empowering the make small “steps” (pun intended) that add up.

        1. MC is sassy 🙂 All good suggestions, you guys! Maybe there should be a “you shouldn’t drive into more than 3 parking lots” or a number of times your car will start in a day, just to make us better planners 🙂

  6. Wow that was an eye opener! Ok gotta reduce that one hour lunch and that one hour of reading time and if I am watching a DVD as I no longer have TV I need to be doing my body alignment work! Thanks Katy I like when you break it down like that it really makes you see what’s going on. man just think if I didn’t have to sleep I could really be doing something! LOL

    Barefoot and Standing Brenda

  7. Hiding the remote control is a good way to get everyone moving. I remember how, way back in the last century,we had to get up out of our chairs & walk across the room to change the channel on the TV. We could also petition school districts to make the school bus stops further apart. I was behind a school bus the other day & it literally stopped at every block. When I was a child in the olden days we walked about 1/2 mile to the bus stop. On sunny days Mom kicked us out of the house & told us to stay outside until lunch or dinner.I can’t remember anyone of my classmates being morbidly obese. We did have some larger kids who wore what Sears called “chubby” (for girls) or “husky” (boys) clothes sizes. These kids would be small compared to some of the soda addicts today.We also had the “President’s Council on Physical Fitness” tests with Phys Ed 3-4 times a week. I wonder what happened to that?

  8. But eating my breakfast, lunch and dinner while sitting cross legged or piriformis stretching or sitting on my heels doesn’t count as sitting in your little test. Right?

      1. Love it. Well, you want to quantify both amount of time sitting first, then work to reduce TOTAL time. Of course, for the times you can reduce, changing HOW you sit is so very beneficial!

  9. I love these ideas! I’m standing and walking a lot just because I’m a very busy chief-cook and bottle-washer (read: mom) on this here mini-farm of mine. But I do seem to spend a bunch of time sitting and nursing (a toddler and a baby) and reading to my home-schooled 7 year old. We’re trying to do more school on the floor instead of the couch…

    I do have to take issue with the “walking while eating” suggestion. Not so good for the digestion…

  10. Katy,

    Another great posting from you.

    Have you read (long title coming up) : “Sitting Kills, Moving Heals : How Everyday Movement will Prevent Pain, Illness, and Early Death – and Exercise Alone Won’t” by Dr Joan Vernikos? Dr Vernikos was previously Director of Life Sciences at NASA.

  11. Great post and reminder, thank you. I’m still working out the shocking truth! Do you have any links or references for studies looking at allocated exercise time, like a class versus cutting out sitting for reducing risk of lifestyle-related diseases please? And are you including fidgety floor sitting in ‘sitting’, e.g. playing with a small child on the floor?

    1. All of the latest research on sitting is *big picture*, i.e. habits over a lifetime, as opposed to short term intervention. Mostly because, you can’t require someone NOT exercise for the purpose of a study to collect data — it would be unethical 🙂 So, they have to look at a longer period of habits in people who are doing them anyway. If you want to see a list of recent sitting/risks evidence, search the blog for “sitting” — oh, and the HR letter — I listed out some references for people to check into if they’re into that sort of thing. Also, the data in these studies looks at chair-sitting. Sitting on the floor changes the geometry in the body, so there is benefit there — review “Your position in life” blog to get a handle on the notions!

      1. Thanks, I’ve checked out the other posts and had a bit of a search myself and there’s loads, isn’t there? I’m volunteering as a local walk leader (thanks to you) and this stuff is very useful for that as well as general interest. Thanks again.

  12. What would you consider a “goal” percentage? I know the point of this exercise is to review the habits of your day, but I’m just curious what you would suggest… I was at 43% of movement during the day, but think I would like to increase that by 10%…

    1. Oh, that’s a good question. I’d have to do the math…I think that a full evening of sleepy time is good, as well as a couple hours of day-time recharge. So, whatever is left over. I think the main goal is to evaluate oneself and see where you are — and then see if there are any obvious places to make progress (i.e. if you found that you’re doing 3 hours of daily driving, that would warrant a second look…) Again, great question!!!

      1. I’m at 25% in 24 hours, or 40% of 15 waking hours. (9 hours in bed a night, cuz the night is often interrupted. But I didn’t include dealing with kids at 2am as active time!). It would be really helpful to have a target! 🙂

        This was my question, too.

        Given that we really do have to lie down to sleep (we aren’t horses!), so obviously 100% active is never going to happen, what is a resonable percentage to aim for?

        1. I think I answered this already on a comment 🙂 100% active isn’t the goal, obviously, but you need to leave those sleeping hours in the equation to realize how much the body isn’t moving in most humans. Er, Westerners, more specifically. If you’re at 25%, then that still gives you some room to increase movement. The point is to assess where there are large chunks of sedentary time — assess whether it is really necessary (using that term VERY specifically) and then make a small improvement. If you calculated how much movement was required to search out or plant, grow, harvest, and produce the foodstuffs your family comes up with, chances are you’d see that humans would be moving most of wake time, if it weren’t for the convenience of mass food production — which is the major undermining of natural movement…

          1. Oh, how about shoot for a 10% increase. Ten percent is typically physiological change that is doable at a time.

          2. 10% increase. That’s only an extra half hour a day!

            I can do that!!

            And then, when I’ve gotten used to the increase, maybe add another 10%, and then….

            thanks, Katy. 🙂

  13. I would like to comment on the “whatever”. SOMETIMES, just hypothetically, extreme introverts find extreme extroverts charming, but when married, exhausting.

    I have a 2 hour quiet-time in the afternoon so I can be re-charged to enjoy my charming extrovert hubby!

    My stress level is usually higher by the end of the weekend (I can’t put hubby down for a nap).

    Some people can only relax fully when they are totally by themselves.

    Charming and energetic extroverts who recharge around people might find that incomprehensible, but shouldn’t take offense!

    He is probably unburdening himself from various toxins while he is in there… ; }

    1. HAHAHA! You might be the first person who has ever accused my loud-mouth, party planning, Guinness-wielding, techno-banging Irish husband an introvert. Believe it or not, I’m the quiet-time introvert in the family 🙂 and need a ton alone time to recharge (that I rarely get…) I know it’s hard to believe (because we’ve never met, right??) based on the videos you have watched, but being a house-bound introvert is actually a common characteristic of people who do a lot of public work. And you’re right, I’m exhausted, but it’s more because of this extroverted baby we have!!!

        1. I wouldn’t mind being extroverted, but all the time seems exhausting 🙂 I think I’ve just tried to make teaching interesting, even if that means putting on a monster costume for 4 minutes in a video!!!!!

  14. When I moved to the US and started working from home I quickly found I could switch between standing work station, sitting on the floor, etc, but I still wasn’t moving enough or I had no idea how much I was moving outside of exercise sessions. So I got a fitbit – it’s a small device that not only counts your steps and the floors you have climbed in a day, but it also helps break down how many hours a day you are active, very active, fairly active. In the end of the day you can see how many steps you did, and also what percentage of your time was spent being active at different levels. I like that something simple like that can wake you up to how sedentary you can become when focused on studying or work.

  15. Cook your own food and make everything from scratch. That will add two and a half to three hours of standing time.

  16. So, between being a domestic engineer (aka stay-at-home parent) most of the time and doing part-time work as a postpartum doula (which typically involves wearing a baby while it sleeps OR doing someone else’s housework while they sleep with a baby), I’m active 58% of the day. I’m not sure if that’s technically enough, but as I typically get to sit down for meals, a small amount of computer time and about 3 tv shows a week, I’m gonna go with yes. Except when my Kindle sucks me in and wraps its tentacles around me and forces me to put all my housework on hold and do nothing but read The Hunger Games trilogy in 2 days. That happens sometimes, but frankly I’m willing to trade a few days at the end of my life for the joys of getting completely lost in a good book series now and then. (And no, I’m not going to read books while walking around. I did that as a teenager and nearly got killed a couple times.)

    1. Who reads WHILE THEY’RE WALKING? Crazy. I think I saw someone almost fall into a pool reading. Book groups typically have read the book before meeting for the group. I’m suggesting walking while talking about it 🙂

  17. I’m so glad I found your site (via Facebook link from Babeland to your Pelvic Floor Party post). This is a great article. I just HAD to respond to “who reads while they’re walking?”… my husband does this all the time! He almost got a jay-walking ticket for it once. And he also almost got hit by a Prius because they’re so quiet and he relies on his ears to know when there’s a car!

  18. Hey Katy, I just finished your book “Every Woman’s Guide to Foot Pain Relief” (even though I’m a guy…). I really enjoyed it, and it cleared up a lot of misconceptions for me. Thank you very much for writing it. I actually enjoy walking barefoot, and throughout my life I’ve spent FAR more time barefoot than in shoes.

    I have just one quick question about foot alignment, and I’m not sure where else to ask it: On page 31 of your book, you said to stand with the outside edges of my feet aligned straight ahead. You said it might feel odd, and it certainly does. But it also hurts my knees, and my knees come close to bonking together if I squat like that! It feels very wrong. My size 12 feet are decently wide, and if I line up the outside edges it makes me look pigeon-toed. How can this be right? Normally I stand with my feet symmetrical and my index toes pointing straight ahead. But when I line up the outside edges my legs become obviously crooked and inward-bending, and I feel like I would injure myself if I tried to do a leg press this way. Are my legs this way because I’ve been walking slightly wrong my whole life (24 years old)? Will my legs/knees/hips adapt to this new alignment? Or are my legs supposed to be this way, perhaps? How do I know if I’m aligning my feet straight? Do you have a DVD that answers this question, perhaps?

    1. Brad! Search “all about your knees” on the blog. It means that the lower legs are pretty rotated, so if you watch the video on the knees post, it will show you how to put your knees back (which, FUN, uses your hips and pelvic floor as they should be used. Also, there are actually two POINTS to line up on the foot — not necessarily the outer edge, as some people aren’t straight-edged in the foot. Moving in the direction from your toe-ends to your heel, If you used the protruding bone just “below” the pinkie, that can be one point. The other can be a plum line dropped from your lateral malleolus (the round, quarter-sized bony protrusion on the outside of the ankle. These points can determine their own line, maybe one a bit more Brad-Friendly. Let me know if that doesn’t make sense!!! – katy

      1. Thanks Katy, that helps. I didn’t even know I had a muscle to rotate my thighs like that! It took me about 15 minutes to figure out how to do it while standing. Now all I have to do is practice…a lot… (For what it’s worth, I think the outside edge must be my proper alignment after all, because my lateral malleolus is even closer to the centre of my foot than the outside edge is, i.e., using the lateral malleolus would make the inward angle of my feet even more pronounced!)

  19. Katy,
    I shared this on my FB page – trying to get folks to ‘wake up’ some if possible through education.
    I figured out that I am probably about 50-55% active – depends on the day and where the clients are. Sadly, some are far enough that I cannot walk to them or I’d have to cross 6 lane freeways to get there – with my yoga gear! NOT! Today, with this extreme cold, I broke down and went to the mall to walk. I will now do this if it is extremely hot, too – like a week of 100 degrees last summer! It keeps me moving, and the mall is a very short drive. I prefer my walks outside – I go longer when I’m enjoying nature!
    I have declined reading as much as I’d like, and knitting – because you have to sit! Unless you are that 5 Hour Energy guy commercial where he runs a marathon and knits a sweater at the same time! Ha Ha Ha!
    Thanks so much!
    Martie in Ohio!!!

  20. I’m 8 months pregnant and try to move as much as possible. I work full time doing accounting so of course this means lots of sitting at a computer. I started using an online timer and every ten minutes it goes off and I get up. I walk up and down the hall twice which takes exactly 60 seconds. This is about 6 walks per hour and 48 extra minutes during the work day that I am up walking. I take a ten minute walk after lunch to help with blood sugar and that makes an hour of walking!
    At my old job I had an exercise ball instead of an office chair that I would bounce on all day long. My chronic neck and back pain disappeared within a week of making the switch and it was amazing.

    1. Sounds like you are DOING IT! Woo hoow! Little changes go a long way. Mind I share your story/quote on how you’ve made a small change to great benefit? Thanks! KAB

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