All Movement Counts: Work Smarter, Not Harder with Baseline Movement

active exercise ball

Have you ever wondered how some people can maintain a healthy lifestyle without a strict exercise routine? Their secret to success is really quite simple. It’s called baseline movement, which is a small amount of additional movement added throughout the day that’s completed while working on or doing other tasks.

Many health professionals will tell you that in order to have a healthy lifestyle, you must schedule exercise into your daily tasks. For instance, you might be told to take the stairs, park farther away from the building you’re headed to, etc. These might be things we think about doing occasionally, but often we don’t find the time to do them. But when you incorporate movement into an already established routine and don’t have to add in extra time for it, exercise can easily become part of your lifestyle!

Baseline movement doesn’t typically result in quick weight-loss or high levels of fitness, but it does increase the amount of calories you burn daily, which can lead to an additional 15-25 lbs of weight-loss per year. The success of various activity trackers, such as FitBit and Jawbone, can tell you that lifestyle movement really adds up!

One of the greatest benefits to baseline movement is that it is inherently low intensity, which not only makes it suitable for anyone, but it is also the perfect movement for targeting fat burn. Take a look at these lifestyle strategies that will allow for weight management and an active lifestyle to become second nature:

Stand at Your Desk Instead of Sit

If you adjust your computer or sitting tasks to be done from a standing position for at least 2 hours out of an 8-hour workday that you would normally be sitting during, you could burn between 216-264 more calories per day. Making such a small change each workday could add up to a weight loss of 16-19.6 lbs per year! If standing for a continuous two hours seems like a little too long, try it for 10-15 minute periods throughout the day, so that it adds up to a two-hour total.

Chart 1 for Mira's Blog Post

Note: Weight loss is estimated for a 275 lb male and 225 lb female

Making this change is easy whether you work in an office or from home. Although you can purchase desks that allow you to stand, you don’t need to. I use the Pub table in my kitchen and the tall dresser in my bedroom to stand while I work on the computer. It’s nothing fancy, but it gets the job done! And because most of us use laptops, it’s easier now more than ever to stand while you work.

Working on the computer isn’t the only time you can use baseline movement. The average American spends two hours per day sitting while using their smart phone for various activities. Here’s a glimpse at how the average American spends two hours every day:

  • Checking social networks, 16 minutes
  • Browsing the internet, 24 minutes
  • Listening to music, 15 minutes
  • Playing games, 13 minutes
  • Making calls, 25 minutes
  • Text messaging, 11 minutes
  • Watching TV/films, 7 minutes
  • Checking/writing emails, 9 minutes
  • Taking photographs, 3 minutes

That’s a lot of time spent sitting when you could be standing! Doing half of these tasks standing instead of sitting for even just four days per week, would allow you to lose an additional 2-2.5 lbs per year—and it could be almost twice that amount if you make this effort daily!

Sit on a Ball Instead of a Chair

In some cases, such as at work, it may not be possible to change a sitting task into a standing task. You can still utilize baseline movement by swapping out the chair for a ball. Sitting on a ball instead of a chair not only increases your core strength, which helps improve your posture, but it also forces you to use muscle contractions to balance on the ball, which is a great way to burn calories.

By exchanging four hours of sitting activities (working, eating, watching T.V., etc.) with sitting-on-the-ball activities, you could lose 9-12.5 lbs per year.

Chart 2 for Mira's Blog Post

Note: Weight loss is estimated for a 275 lb male and 225 lb female

You may be wondering what the amount of weight-loss would look like for someone outside of the estimated weight rage. Because weight directly influences how many calories you burn, weight-loss will always be different for different people. As you lose weight, you tend to burn fewer calories, but as you can see in the following chart, the results are still significant!

Here is what it would look like for someone weighing 25 lbs less than what was previously estimated: Chart 3 for Mira's Blog Post

Note: Weight loss is estimated for a 250 lb male and 200 lb female

Baseline movement allows you to increase your body’s opportunity to burn more calories. Think back to the people you know who seem to maintain a healthy weight with less overall effort. There are always exceptions, but for most of us, our weight is movement related.

For more ideas on how to impact your movement in daily activities, check out Monday’s Your Weight Matters blog post “All Movement Counts: 5 Small Changes that Make a Huge Difference!”

About the Author:

Mira Rasmussen, BS, ASCM EP-C, is the founder and president of Fitness Beyond Training, LLC, which specializes in functional training for the general population, athletes and those managing disease or any physical limitations. As an exercise physiologist and health professional for the last eleven years, Mira Rasmussen is passionate about personalizing fitness and nutrition plans to create lasting lifestyle changes. Committed to promoting a healthy lifestyle, she serves on the Obesity Action Coalition’s Education Committee and frequentlywrites articles for Your Weight Matters Magazine. For more information on Mira, please visit www.fitnessbeyondtraining.com.



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