8 Minutes to a Longer Life

Sherry Pagoto, Ph.D.

Recent research has shown that prolonged sitting time is associated with increased risk for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, regardless of how active you are in your non-sitting time (Katzmarzyk et al 2010). These findings are disconcerting to those of us who toil away at office jobs that force us to sit for hours. Sitting time is suspected to be harmful not just because it decreases metabolism but also because of the lack of muscle activity in the lower limbs (Dunstan et al, 2012a). Interrupting periods of sitting even for just a minute or two has been shown to be very beneficial (Dunstan et al 2012b). An innovative solution to sitting time at work is the treadmill desk, but most people do not have the space (or funds!) to install a treadmill in their work station. We need other solutions and quick; our sedentary jobs are slowly eroding our health!

I propose another solution that is free, requires no equipment or large spaces, gets those lower limb juices flowing, and might just be the most fun you have all day.

The 8-Hour Workday Exercise Challenge


The 8-hour Workday Exercise Challenge means devoting 1 minute each hour to a small amount of low impact physical activity, just enough to break up the sitting time.

About a year ago, in an effort to motivate ourselves to do abdominal exercise, Mike Bauman (@mbfgmike) and I started #PlankADay, a health challenge on Twitter that involves doing a 1-minute abdominal plank (see pic) once a day and tweeting it with the #PlankADay hashtag. A plank is a simple exercise that strengthens the core, abdominals, and legs. Over 4,000 people have joined us in this 1-minute exercise challenge. To break up work day sitting time, we took the daily plank to the next level and developed the Plank-An-Hour challenge, where you complete one plank every hour for 8 hours straight. Other hourly health challenges have been popping up on Twitter too—squats, pushups, lunges, you name it. These are quick, easy, no equipment necessary exercises that we all wish we did more of but have trouble fitting into our day. The hourly challenge forces you to pause during a busy day for 1 minute or less and do something active. Isn’t that what we all need to do during the day after all? Take pauses?

I challenge you to devote 1 minute (or even 15, 30 seconds) of every hour of the work day to a plank, a small set of pushups, squats, lunges, or any simple one move exercise. You don’t even need to be in the office, you could be home with the kids, running errands, or on a day off. While you could do an hourly exercise challenge on your own each day, social media adds the accountability and fun to it. Here are some tips on getting social with your workday exercise challenge.

How to Get Started? Join the #PlankADay Revolution on Twitter and follow Shannon Colavecchio a fitness instructor (@badassfitCEO) on Twitter who hosts a variety of challenges every week. Or, start your own hashtag challenge. Name your challenge and invite a few co-workers or Twitter followers to join or do it solo. Every time we have started a challenge spontaneously, a few followers have jumped on the band wagon. If you don’t have any followers interested in health and fitness, follow my Healthy List.

Start Small. If you are doing a new exercise in frequent repetitions throughout the day, make sure that each repetition is small and manageable.* The first rep should not feel like an effort at all, because you will notice as the day goes on, it will get increasingly challenging. Change the challenge from day-to-day to get a well-rounded workout.

Who Has the Time? When I do an hourly challenge I inevitably get asked, how do you have time to plank all day? 8 planks require 8 minutes. My life isn’t so harried that I don’t have 8 minutes to devote to offsetting my risk for disease. In fact, I find that short exercise breaks during the workday increase my productivity. The exercise also prevents that “hit the wall” feeling that I usually get in the afternoon, where I feel cross-eyed from staring at a computer, mentally tapped out from writing for hours on end, and antsy from sitting too long. You’ll be surprised how quickly the day flies by too.

Not a Fan of Social Media? Grab a few workmates and decide on a challenge to do together offline. You don’t have to use social media outlets to report to each other, you could use instant messaging, texts, emails, or dare I suggest good old-fashioned in-person conversation to report your progress to each other.

My Twitter Feed is for Professional Purposes Only. If you feel uncomfortable making exercise-related tweets on your main account, start a side account just for this purpose. You can even keep your account anonymous if you prefer. Use a phony name, location and a fun avatar. I don't know the real names or faces of a lot of people I tweet, it doesn't at all detract from the fun.


Make Your Exercise Minute Fun. When we do planks together at work we try things like naming as many NFL teams, breakfast cereals, car models, kinds of fruit or pick your category as we can during the minute to pass the time more quickly. This game is always good for a laugh. The other day my co-worker shouted “tequila!” when we were on a roll naming car models. I guess it was one of those days! If you are by yourself, use the time to make a mental to-do list, pray, or meditate.

Unintended Side Effects. Beware that if you get hooked on office exercise challenges, you will notice strange side effects, including loosening pants waistlines, muscle tone, hysterical laughter, and bursts of energy and creativity. Proceed (or don’t) at your own risk.

Have suggestions for other ways to leverage social media for health and fitness? Share them in the comments.

*Always check with a physician before starting an exercise program.



最近的一项研究表明,久坐与死亡率、罹患心血管疾病和癌症的风险均存在正相关,而且不论其余时间内你如何热爱运动,这种正相关仍然存在(Katzmarzyk等,2010)。这些发现无疑让我们之中那些长期必须在办公室一坐N个小时工作的人感到惊慌。久坐被指控的坏处不仅包括减缓新陈代谢,还会让我们的下肢缺乏肌肉活动(Dunstan等, 2012 a)。在久坐之中插入哪怕只有一到两分钟的活动也是大有裨益的(Dunstan等, 2012 b)。对工作中的久坐,跑步机办公桌是个很具创意的解决方案,不过绝大多数人都没有足够的空间(和钱!)在他们的办公环境里添一个跑步机。我们需要另外的点子,而且要快,久坐的工作正在缓慢地侵蚀我们的健康!




大约一年前,为了促进我们自己进行腹部锻炼,Mike Bauman(@mbfgmike)和我在Twitter上开始了一个名为#每日撑举的健康挑战:每天做1分钟腹部撑举(如图),并以#每日撑举#的标签在Twitter上发布。撑举是一种能增强核心肌群、腹部和腿部的简单锻炼。超过4000人参加了我们这个1分钟健康挑战。为了打破工作日的久坐,我们把这个每日撑举改进成#每小时撑举挑战,需要你在每天八小时连续工作中每隔一小时完成一个撑举。其它的每小时健康锻炼也在Twitter上涌现出来——深蹲,俯卧撑,弓步蹲,blabla。这些都是快捷、简单、无需器材的锻炼方法,我们以前可能都想要进行,却苦于无法在一天中找到合适的时间。我们的每小时挑战则强迫你在繁忙的一天中停下1分钟(或更短时间)做些运动。这不正是我们在工作日中所需要的吗?暂停一下?


如何开始?在Twitter上参加#每日撑举革命,并关注Shannon Colavecchio,一位健身教练(@badassfitCEO),每周都发布各种不同的挑战项目。或者,用你自己的标签开始一项挑战吧。给你的挑战取个名字,邀请你的几个同事或Twitter粉参加,当然只是自己做也可以。每次我们自己开始一项挑战,总会有些同道者跳出来加入的。如果你没有任何粉丝对健康和健身感兴趣的话,欢迎关注我的健康名单。