“Sitting is the new smoking.” It’s cliche at this point. But with half of the average person’s waking hours spent sitting in some fashion, it’s a warning most of us need to heed.

The effects of extended sitting on our health are well documented. And working out for an hour doesn’t compensate for eight hours of sitting.

The main conclusion is that vigorous physical activity (the more explicit, clinical term for “exercise”) doesn’t cancel out the negative impact of time spent being sedentary, which appears to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (the leading cause of death) and diabetes, even among people who exercise regularly.

There are many suggestions on how to add some movement into our day. Set a timer! Get a standing desk! Take walking meetings and phone calls!

All great ideas. But let’s face it. We’re human and we tend to take the easiest option, which probably means more sitting. Sometimes we need a little bit of external pressure or disruption.  

That’s where these ideas come in.

Build an Accountability Trigger 

This one puts our tech gadgets to work.

Using a step tracker, we can build an applet in IFTTT where if we don’t hit a certain step goal by a certain time, the applet gets triggered.

The trigger could be a Tweet or email to coworkers letting them know you sat too much and encouraging them to keep you accountable in the future (and also offering to do the same for them as well).

This uses some tactics from Stickk and peer pressure to keep yourself accountable with the help of some gadgets.

When setting this up, set the step target for something you should hit by the end of the workday, like 6000 – 8000 steps, not your total step goal.

Here are the links for Fitbit and Misfit. Sadly triggers aren’t supported on the Apple Watch / iOS Health.

Lock Yourself Out

Most wearable devices have built in reminders to stand up and move around. But if you have one of these I bet you’ve hit snooze quite a few times. You need something a bit less subtle.

You need a giant sign in your face. This post has four computer timers that remind you to take a break.

Stretchly seems to be the most obtrusive, which is what we’re going for, with a full screen splash page telling you to get off the computer and take a break.

These are all OK solutions but I couldn’t find anything that totally locks you out of your computer, like RescueTime does with distracting websites if you’ve wasted too much time during the day. If you know of any please share below.

Park Daringly

An often cited hack is to park far away. Good, but we still need some incentive to move. How about avoiding a $60 fine?

At my office, a few of the blocks have all day parking while some blocks only have two hour parking. Every time I park on the two hour block, you bet I’m super diligent in stopping what I’ doing when my alarm goes off an hour and a half later and walking back to my car to move it.

A great way to leverage aversion to financial loss.


If you’ve been struggling with forcing yourself to move around during the day, hopefully one of these ideas triggered some inspiration to add a little bit of pressure to hold yourself accountable and your larger goals. After all, if it wasn’t important to you you wouldn’t be reading this.

Find something else that helps you move throughout the day? Let us know in the comments.

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