I spent less time sitting down for a week and it completely changed my energy levels—here's how you can do the same

Spending less time sitting down boosted my energy, improved my creativity and encouraged other healthy habits

A woman on a walking treadmill working at an elevated desk
(Image credit: Getty Images)

I’m someone who feels constantly busy, with a whirring mind that’s exhausted at the end of the day. But I have to admit that most of my mental lifting is done from the comfort of sitting down. 

This is bad news for my health, as extended periods of sitting can slow the metabolism and weaken the lower-body muscles, like the hip flexors and glutes. 

A recent study published in the European Heart Journal found that any activity is actually better for your health than sitting—even taking a nap! With this in mind, I embarked on a seven-day challenge to increase my daily movement to see what benefits it would bring.  

The plan

I decided that during this challenge, increasing my daily movement didn't mean I wasn't allowed to sit. It simply meant getting creative with the tasks I’d usually spend sitting down and incorporating more activity into my day. 

One approach I decided to adopt was activity snacking with gentle, everyday movements.

"Taking the stairs is a simple yet effective way to incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine," says Reiss Mogilner, a NASM-qualified personal trainer and owner of F45 Mill Hill. "If your office has a lift, opting for the stairs as much as possible is a great way to get movement in without you even realizing."

What about at home? "Standing desks are a great way to add some movement," says Molinger. "You could try alternating between sitting and standing throughout the day, with the goal of  standing for half of your workday." 

He also suggested walking while conducting video meetings and phone conversations. Another simple yet effective idea. 

I decided to adopt these tips and see how it affected my mood, energy levels and output for the week. Here's what happened.

Woman walking, smiling and looking at her phone

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. I had more energy

I thought that increasing my daily movement would make me feel more tired at the end of the day, but surprisingly, I found the opposite to be true. I spent the week alternating between my make-shift stand-up desk and sitting, and I found I was more productive and mentally energized. 

It also had a positive knock-on effect on my motivation to move. Often  if I’ve spent the morning sitting at my desk, I might feel too lethargic to move at lunchtime and opt for a sitting break. I soon discovered the more standing I did, the more likely I was to head out on an afternoon walk.

2. I was more creative

I’m sure I’m not alone in occasionally suffering from a 'creative block'. Some days the ideas simply don’t flow. However, I found that increasing my movement helped my creativity. When I took my meetings standing up, I felt more confident and engaged in the conversations, and was able to contribute more ideas.

3. It inspired healthier habits

As much as I’d love a magic health pill to transform my wellbeing, it’s usually these small, sustainable steps that make the biggest difference. Adding movement to my day seemed to positively influence other healthier habits; I opted for herbal teas over caffeine as I wasn’t feeling as tired and I did evening yoga instead of watching TV. 

Will I continue with the experiment?

I spend Fridays with my toddler, and I’m usually desperate to sit down by the end of the day. However, this week, after a day filled with swimming lessons and walking around a farm, I still had more left in the tank. So I met a friend that evening for an overdue catch-up, instead of crashing out in front of the latest Netflix drama. 

What this experiment has proved is that including activity snacks into my day, such as regular standing and walking, can benefit me beyond just for physical movement — it can even make room for healthier habits holistically, too.  

For more tips on how to increase your daily movement, have a look through these exercise snacking workouts, or try doing a five-minute yoga routine.

Need some footwear to support your new exercise regime? Have a look through our guide to the best shoes for walking and being on your feet all day.

Holly Treacy

Holly Treacy is a freelance editor with more than 15 years experience. Previously editor of Natural Health magazine and Health & Wellbeing magazine, Holly specializes in health, wellbeing and lifestyle topics and has edited and written for titles including Stylist, Psychologies, Top Sante, Women's Fitness and Platinum. 

She is passionate about women's health, hormonal wellbeing and mental wellness, as well as creating healthy habits as a busy mum of one.

Holly enjoys investigating the mind-body connection and has a holistic approach to health and nutrition. She loves yoga, swimming and walking, especially in the English countryside and she launched, produced and hosted the Walk To Wellbeing podcast.