Is Standing an Exercise?


In a recent issue of The Atlantic magazine, Maggie Mertens, a writer from Seattle, writes that after the pandemic and remote working, Standing Now Counts as Exercise.

Perhaps now we can collectively redefine what counts as exercise. As parts of our life continue to be mediated through a screen, moving our body with intention can serve as a good reminder that we have one.

Based on her conversation with peoples, Maggie writes that many agreed that the Covid pandemic helped them to change their relationship with exercise, who previously felt that “they were always failing to turn it into a habit“.

Marissa Goldberg, a consultant with companies on the best ways to implement remote work for employees, told Maggie “the mental reframing that all kinds of activities (not just intense cardio, for instance) can yield health benefits is one of the positive outcomes of working from home”.

Pre-pandemic, people might have seen the opportunities to fit exercise into the day as limited. But when work moved online for many—at the same time that gyms across the country closed—the options for what we perceived as exercise expanded. For her part, Goldberg sets a 30-minute timer every day to clean, finish a to-do list of errands, take a midday walk to clear her head, or dance to music.

– Maggie Mertens, The Atlantic

In general, getting people involved in regular exercises has been reportedly has been a challenge for decades. David Conroy, a kinesiology and human-development professor at Penn State University, told Maggie:

We only have enough time or energy or attention to pursue so many goals at a time. And physical activity, because rewards are oftentimes very delayed, many people just don’t value those as much as some of the other outcomes that would happen if we pursued other goals.

Maggie writes that the availability of smartwaches, who sales reportedly jumped during the pandemic, “have played a part in reconceiving exercise by rewarding people for less-strenuous movement”.

Goldberg told Maggie that the Pandemic-era working from home isn’t “normal” working from home and many people reportedly felt depressed and lethargic. Goldberg recommends:

To start tracking their movement so they can see that when they didn’t stand up for hours or walk more than a few hundred steps a day, that was likely part of the reason for their mood. In that way, remote work can kick-start a process of discovering how important movement really is, and figuring out how you’d like to address that need.

“There’s a bunch of emotional and mental and physical energy saved, being in your own environment. It’s almost like finding yourself again.”