We’ve all read the studies—sitting all day, especially when combined with minimal exercise, can take a serious toll on your health. According to HuffPost, for example, long periods of sitting have been linked to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and anxiety.
Since the average American spends six to eight hours per day sitting, it’s important to find ways to move more throughout the day. If you can fit in a full workout every day, great—but not everyone can fit that much gym time into their schedule, and if that’s the case for you, every bit of movement that you can get in matters.
The good news: there’s an easy rule that can help you remember to be just a little more active during the work day: the 5/15 Rule. Both parts to this equation are simple: the 5 means you should take 5 minutes to get up and move or walk around for every hour you spend sitting. Maybe you take that 5 minutes to walk up and down the stairs, or you take a short stroll around the block, or, if you work in a large office, maybe it means you take that 5 minutes to do a lap around the office and grab some water (staying hydrated is also key).
In any case, don’t let yourself go more than an hour without some activity if you can help it. Set an alarm on your phone if you need reminders to get up, but try not to skip your 5 minute breaks. (Bonus: If you work on a computer all day, this will also help give your eyes a break!).
Here’s where the 15 comes in—when it’s time for your lunch break, dedicate at least 15 minutes to walking. If you bring your lunch, don’t eat at your desk, if you can help it—try walking to a nearby park or walking a few blocks while you eat (so long as your lunch is something portable!), or if you’re picking up lunch from somewhere nearby, walk a few blocks out of the way to get your full 15 minutes in.
If you can walk for longer, or take multiple 15-minute breaks per day, go for it. Not only will it get you up and moving more often which is important for your physical health, you’ll also probably notice a positive shift in your focus and productivity—so you’ll both feel and work better.
Of course, following the 5/15 Rule probably won’t totally fit your recommended exercise needs for the week, but it’ll certainly help—every activity counts, after all.