Go Small: Improve Your Health With Little Movements

Experts say people don’t have to commit to long-distance running or other arduous endeavors to improve their fitness and overall well-being.

Dave Ghose
Columbus Monthly
Small movements can help improve overall health.

Dr. Jason Dapore uses a food analogy when he talks about fitness: “Think of movements as vitamins and nutrition,” says the OhioHealth sports medicine specialist. “Think of chairs as candy.”

It’s no secret that a sedentary life is terrible for your long-term health, increasing your risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other ailments. What’s less recognized, however, is that you don’t have to run a marathon, become a CrossFit athlete or embrace other high-intensity workouts to make a difference in your overall health. Small movements—daily errands, climbing stairs, simple shoulder exercises—also can be game-changers, research shows.

“There are large levels of evidence that sedentary activity is just bad,” says Dapore, who is also team physician for the Columbus Blue Jackets. “So you [have] got to break it up.”

While you certainly can achieve that by joining a gym, you also can benefit by walking down the hall, standing up from your chair more frequently and incorporating lunges, stretches and standing hamstring curls into your day. If you opt to use a standing desk, Dapore recommends adding a mat that helps you stand more comfortably and stretch your calves.

Additional options are under-the-desk bikes or elliptical machines, though Dapore identifies a problem with these devices. “If you’re in a cubicle, you might get made fun of,” he says with a laugh.

This story is from the May 2023 issue of Columbus Monthly.